The coronavirus pandemic has prompted millions of employees to begin working from home. While many were probably delighted by the prospect of working on the couch in their pajamas, any experienced work-from-home employee can tell you the novelty wears off quickly. An unchanging routine can make maintaining productivity a challenge — a central concern when evaluating the coronavirus business impact.
As of April 20, a few states started unveiling plans to reopen businesses with a phased approach. But for many workers, there’s no immediate end in sight to their working from home experience. So, how do you balance work and everyday life when it all happens in the same place? Consider these work-life balance tips for a successful and productive work-from-home period during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Achieve Work-Life Balance by Avoiding the Extremes
When you first begin working from home, you may fall into one of two camps: the overwork camp or the underwork camp.
Employees who are overworked are highly susceptible to burnout, which is why this extreme should be avoided. It’s easy to rationalize overworking. You think, “Well, I’m motivated and I’ve got nothing else to do. So, let’s get a head start on next week’s project!” However, this can become recurrent. Before you know it, you’re working 70 hours a week! While this work ethic is admirable, it’s rarely sustainable.
The other extreme — underwork — may result from experiencing difficulty focusing in a home environment. Often, this type of person is constantly interrupted by family members, pets, or just household tasks, in addition to the looming uncertainty of the COVID-19 situation.
You pause to think for a moment when you notice that your office window is horribly dirty! “I’m going to grab the Windex and clean that. It’ll only take a minute!” But before you know it, a couple of hours have elapsed and you’ve washed every window in the house. It’s time for dinner, so you rationalize that you can make up the time tomorrow. But, the same thing plays out the next day, and the day after that…and the day after that. Both of these issues can be resolved by clearly defining your workspace, work hours, and expectations for your family members.
Work-Life Balance Tips
- Work in a place that’s free of disturbances and distractions. Your work area should have everything you need to get the job done. And it should be comfortable….but not too comfortable (lest you find yourself drifting off to sleep!) This may require temporarily re-working an existing space in your home, like a dining room or reading nook. While you’re working from home, make sure your workspace remains dedicating only to work.
- Make it clear to your family that they need to respect your work area.
They wouldn’t typically march into your office demanding help to fix a dislodged bike chain, so they shouldn’t barge into your home office either. They can wait until you’re on break — which brings us to our next point.
- Take breaks and lunch. Create a schedule and stick to it, just as you do at the office. Get up, walk the dog or help the kids with the miscellaneous to-dos that have accrued over the past couple hours….and then get back to work. Taking breaks is a good way to divide up the day and minimize distractions while you’re actually working.
- Create a visual reminder to others that you’re “at work.” Young children (and even some adults) may need a bit of a reminder that you’re working and cannot be disturbed. Maybe you wear designated work attire or headphones. Perhaps you put up a sign on your office door, with a whiteboard note telling others when you’ll be taking your next break. It can help tremendously to use a visual reminder so others know they shouldn’t disturb you.
- Set your work hours and adhere to them! Ideally, you should be working at the same time that your co-workers are working. But parents of small children may find it easier to work during nap time, early in the morning before the kids are up or in the evenings after the kids have gone to bed. Clarify any expectations with your employer and find a solution that is accommodating for both your team and your family.
- Get dressed, brush your hair, grab some coffee and “go to work” every morning. This doesn’t mean putting on slacks and a tie, but it does mean changing into something more formal than pajamas. When you’re done, you can change back into sleepwear but defined changes will help start and end your workday.
These tips will help you maintain a healthier work-life balance while avoiding burnout or the loss of productivity that can happen when an employee shifts to working at home. Once you’ve found a routine that works for you, you’ll likely find that your productivity equals (or potentially surpasses) the productivity in a traditional office environment. When handled well, you can contribute to a positive coronavirus business impact, which may help offset its many negatives.
Think of this pandemic as an opportunity to show your company that you can maintain productivity while working in a home environment. If you’re successful, there’s a chance that your company will give staff the flexibility to work remotely on occasion — even once the pandemic and social distancing are behind us.
At 7T, our team is here to help facilitate digital transformation, including projects that can make working from home more feasible for companies. 7T’ss services include CRM development, ERP development, cloud integration, data lake creation and beyond.
7T has offices in Dallas, Houston, Chicago, and Austin, but our clientele spans the globe. If you’re in search of innovative digital transformation experts to help your company evolve in an attempt to minimize the coronavirus business impact, contact 7T today.