12 May 2020
7 Ways to Achieve Work-Life Integration when Working from Home
Read time: 4 minutes, 5 seconds
It may seem counterintuitive, but remote workers often have more trouble integrating their work and personal lives than their commuting counterparts. They not only put in longer hours, but struggle to disconnect at the end of the workday, according to a survey conducted shortly before COVID-19 surfaced. Whether you’re an agent who’s always worked from home or you’ve recently begun working remotely, one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is to strive for work-life harmony.
For one thing, medical studies indicate that when our professional and private lives are out of sync, we’re at higher risk for anxiety and depression, as well as strokes, heart attacks and other stress-triggered disorders. Furthermore, research shows that when we’re are happy and healthy overall, we’re also more productive at work.
These are unprecedented times. Across every industry, individuals and businesses are feeling their way through the shifting economic and health crisis. When home and office are one and the same, pressures can be further heightened. However, by employing these seven strategies, you can better integrate your work life and home life—and you’ll be the better for it.
- Set Consistent Work Hours: These days, not everyone’s home life is conducive to a standard “9-5” workday. Because many schools and daycare centers are closed due to shelter-in-place orders, parents are spending part of their day homeschooling or engaged in childcare activities. The same goes for workers caring for elderly parents.
If it’s an option, take advantage of the ability to choose your own work hours. However, whatever you choose, be consistent—adhere to a set schedule. According to experts, you’ll be happier and more productive as a result.
That means letting contacts and colleagues know when you’re available and how to best contact you—and to extend the same courtesy to them. It means working together as a team to coordinate workflow and communication, so nothing falls through the cracks.
- Create Clear Workday Boundaries: People who are most successful working remotely are those who can create clear transitions at the start and end of their workday, such as shutting the home office door behind them.
When that’s not an option, there are other ways to set boundaries, such as:
- Designating a physical workspace where all work activities—and only work activities—are conducted.
- Establishing start and end of the day rituals, such as closing your laptop and turning off your light.
- Take set coffee breaks and lunch breaks, just like you would in the office.
- Set Goals, Assignments and Deadlines: The most productive remote workers are also the most organized. Creating structure is a great way to help nurture focus and concentration, which can be hard to maintain when working from home.
Keep a running to-do list, and update it on a daily basis. Embrace any sales logs or status reports you’re required to submit—they’ll help you stay on course. Being productive is not only satisfying, but makes it easier to disengage cleanly once the work is done.
- Dress for Success: It’s all too easy to descend into informality when working from home. One way to stay in your professional zone is to follow your pre-shutdown “get-ready-for-work” ritual and dress in designated work clothes—maybe not what one would wear on a sales call or in the office, but not sweats, either.
If you’re engaging in videoconference sales or office calls, of course, this has practical aspects, too, since you’ll appear more professional.
- Unplug (Literally) at the End of the Day: Technology is a wonderful tool for keeping us connected, but it can also blur the line between work time and everything else. Unless there’s a specific reason to do otherwise, stop checking emails once the work day is over. If you use any designated work devices, power them down once the workday is done.
- Participate in Team Calls and Virtual Meetings: It’s very important to stay in close communication with your team now. Scheduling and attending regular team meetings will help you stay connected, motivated and accountable while you’re apart.
In addition, when you’re the one initiating calls and meetings, schedule them in advance, rather than spontaneously. This helps instill the structure of a defined work schedule, both for you and other attendees.
- Take Care of Yourself 24/7: During particularly stressful times—like now—it’s especially important that we look after our physical and emotional health, as well as our families.
Engage in activities that help you de-stress—whether taking walks, playing with the kids, or feasting on good books and music. Look after those that you care about; check in with family and friends often. Get healthy activity; feed your brain and spirit.
In short, work-life integration is more than a buzzword, especially right now, with so many of us working from home. Creating work-life harmony will not only benefit your career and livelihood, but your health and well-being.