Work/Life Balance When Working From Home
When work makes its way into the living space, it starts to feel as if work is everywhere. Work/life balance has always been a challenge, but it’s especially difficult to conceptualize and enforce when working from home.
While it might feel like work is everywhere and everywhere is work, that's just not the case. Acknowledging your needs, enforcing your boundaries, and remembering you're only human is the start of creating a healthy relationship with work, even when it's so close to everyday life.
NBF partnered with Kelton Global to survey more than 1,000 American workers. We examined how people feel about their work-from-home workspaces and what they need to make their days better and brighter using a combination of finding the right furniture, designing a beautiful workspace, and building behaviors that can create long-lasting workplace wellness.
Ergonomics Are Essential
At the office, your company chose desks, chairs, and supplies they thought were ideal for the entire company. At home, you might not have these workplace essentials ready to go. As you settle into your workspace, consider furniture that is a net benefit for physical health.
We found that 22% of those frustrated with their current space are using outdated furnishings or equipment that impact productivity. Meanwhile, 3 in 10 believe their workspace needs an upgrade. If you're part of either group, make sure that your new-and-improved setup is doing its best to help you stay on task.
Take a Seat
It's no surprise that seating is a constant struggle for work-from-home employees. As you look for the right seat, you aren't bound by traditional office options. Consider finding a task chair with the same support and features that are staples of workplace seating.
Size and Shape
While the colors and styles are endless, a few standard materials are used in office furniture. Polyurethane and other faux leathers are easy to clean and durable, while real leather is a luxurious option for an elevated office. Cooling mesh can make working a breeze, and fabric can add style without sticking to your skin.
The right combination of adjustments can make your workday experience feel like a dream. Mix and match the right tilt (synchro, knee, or center), lumbar support, arm movements, and seat depth that works for you.
From traditional tables to storage-rich setups, desks come in a wide array of configurations and features to help you customize your workspace. No matter what size space you're working with, there are endless options to fit every floor plan, design scheme, and budget.
Standard-height desks are the standard for a reason, but people are turning to standing-height solutions for an added ergonomic benefit. Height-adjustable options marry the best of both worlds for those who like to sit or stand at any stature.
Coordinating hutches, both big and small, are there for your right-at-hand needs. These can occupy valuable vertical real estate to further enhance small space work areas.
Set (and Stick to) Boundaries
The boundaries you set with management, coworkers, and yourself will determine the success of your work/life balance. Likewise, leaving loopholes, creating exceptions, and relaxing boundaries can quickly erode any positive groundwork.
After determining reasonable boundaries, communicate them to managers and colleagues. Then? Stick to them. Calendar programs often can set available hours to establish a rough guideline that's visible to everybody, while other nuanced boundaries may need more direct communication.
Determine what hours are available for meetings and reasonable for responding to emails, calls, and instant messages.
Decide whether you will check incoming communication during nights or weekends. It's OK if you keep all work-related communication to working hours only.
Select what applications you'd like to install on personal devices and set notifications to correlate with your available hours.
Realize that it's OK to keep work time separate from personal time. If possible, determine who can take care of emergencies in your absence should you be unreachable.
Build a Routine
Thoughtful boundaries will naturally establish a workday and workweek routine. Once your working hours are defined, begin to schedule important activities at easy-to-anticipate times—and don’t forget to include what's important to you. These little rituals can have a big impact on workday happiness.
Find the right way to start your day on a positive note. Brew a great cup of coffee, tidy up your desk, or do a quick sweep of your mailbox while listening to your favorite podcast.
Take a Break
Real, scheduled breaks can feel like a luxury when working from home. Build in time for lunch, a quick walk, or any necessary appointments that might conflict with the workday. Even a 15-minute meditation session can make its way into the daily routine as a way to clear your mind and get ready for the next task.
Add a Little Personal Time
While it's ill-advised to blend your work life and personal life too much, it's OK to schedule some time to accomplish a household chore during the day. Use one of your breaks to run a recurring errand or quickly tidy part of your house without feeling guilty for wasting work time.
Make a Perfect Playlist
Everybody has a different ideal soundtrack for their workday. Find a great auto-generated playlist, explore curated collections on your favorite streaming service, or subscribe to a podcast you can play in the background. White noise apps are another great way to keep the room tone lively without adding distracting words or lyrics.
Wrap Up and Wind Down
Ease your way out of the workday mindset with a relaxing task that will leave you in tip-top shape for the next day. Take the last 15 minutes to leave your workspace organized, sterilized, and clean so that your early morning self can start the day off right.
Need a Helping Hand?
When you're alone at home, it's easy to forget that resources are available through your employer.
Employee Assistance Programs
Employee assistance programs (EAPs) aren't all created equal, but look into what your company offers and keep these benefits in mind. Some EAPs offer free counseling for workplace and personal issues, which can be used as a singular solution or a stepping stone to additional help. Childcare support, legal advice, and gym discounts are commonly available in EAPs, but these programs differ from company to company.
Talk to Your Manager
The pandemic presented a new set of challenges that impacted every employee differently. Discuss your needs with your manager, including how your personal needs intersect with and affect your work. Accommodations can be made to ensure that employees' professional success and mental health are all accounted for, but sometimes this takes input from one's supervisor or human resources.