Some time ago, before the pandemic broke out, our company had already been working on a concept to enable everyone to work from home. We have introduced a procedure so that every employee would feel comfortable if they have decided not to come to the office and rather stay at home for a day or even longer. But now the option of staying at home has turned into a must.
The question which is now asked is how to face this challenge especially as your beloved home has turned into a place where you keep staying 24/7. Irrespective of whether you live alone or with your partner or maybe with your kids it is a challenge for everyone to a certain extent: Our borders between work and leisure have been blurred which is a natural outcome if you share the same space for multiple purposes. This might have negative consequences in the long-term which in the worst case may lead you to burn-out.
In order to prevent such an outcome, both employers and employees need to keep an eye on it and frankly indicate if something wrong happens.
"Work-Life-Balance" is the key but how to achieve it?
Responding to the current situation our company has worked out a guideline which aims to help every employee to keep the right balance. Everything you do, you need to remember that you are in the centre of the happenings around you. Keeping the right balance is a mixture of: work, family / flatmates, exercises, nutrition and last but not least time for yourself when you can relax or do something you like. At a first glance, this seems to be a lot and not manageable but communication is the key. If you do not live alone, set clear rules for your flatmates and agree with them upon the time when you are not available for them. This means that during this time others need to treat the situation as if you were not at home although you physically are. This might be difficult in the beginning but as time passes, it should become easier and easier. At the same time, also do respect the unavailability of others. As well as there is time when you are not available, there should also be some time you purely dedicate for your family members or flatmates. In order to find the right way and a solution which works for everyone who lives with you, talk to each other, brainstorm and find compromises.
Do keep a healthy lifestyle: Remember about a well-balanced diet as sitting at home may make you snack more often. You can counteract that if you take the time to prepare healthy meals (this is also a good opportunity for some social time with your flatmates) and set the time when to have breakfast, lunch and dinner. Do not forget to drink a lot of water to keep you well hydrated. Along with your diet, remember about regular exercises. While staying at home our movements will be limited to the distances between our beds, desk chairs and sofas. Do not turn into a couch potato! Especially these days, exercises are very important - what about some squats, push-ups, sit-ups or maybe yoga? You may also make use of already prepared training sessions online. If you are in general not very fit, try to stretch at least a few times a day. This does not take ages, just a couple of minutes, and after a few days, you will feel much more released.
Having arranged your surroundings, let us now focus on work. Most of the time of our lives we spend working. Not everyone will have a professional arranged office at home meeting our needs entirely, especially as working from home used to be treated more as an exception than a standard. Nevertheless, there are ways to make the best out of the situation: If you do not have the possibility to lock yourself in a separate room, at least find a space where you can settle for the time-being. This can be e.g. a corner of your dining table. Avoid working from bed as this will not have the best impact on you and your working results. Returning to the same place every morning will create a routine which will make you think that you "are going" to the office. Start your day the same way as if you indeed were in the office, take your cup of tea or coffee and sit down.
To help you getting effectively through the day, make yourself a list of your goals you want to achieve that day. Remember not to make this list too long as this would be counterproductive. There is nothing worse than too much work in progress. Remember: work is work! You need to be disciplined and not distract yourself if you want to be productive. If it helps, switch your phone and your communicators off (also those used for business) and focus on one thing. You will see that you actually spend much less time on this task in comparison if you were distracted in the meantime.
Are you an early bird or a night owl? Make use of it! Now, that everyone is working remotely you can also be more flexible on your working hours. Tick off your tasks when no-one else is bothering you.
Do not forget about your team you used to work with while you were in the office. If you work together on business tasks, have a
daily for about 15 minutes every morning and exchange your information: Who is working on what? Are there any obstacles? Who might help? etc. As a consequence, everyone will be informed on the activities of their team members on the one hand. On the other hand, you will feel more valuable and have a feeling that you are still part of the team which relies on you and your working results.
As you cannot maintain your relationships with work only, have a regular informal catch-up with your colleagues. Did you use to go for lunch together or have a coffee? Why not do it online? If you could do it in the office, you can do it now as well. Find a spot and arrange such a meeting. It may be in a bigger round or as a one-to-one. Find the optimum for yourself.
Last but not least, there is one thing worth to be mentioned. The role of a facilitator. Some workplaces may also call such a person a "feel-good-manager". Working isolated is hard and even keeping to the above-mentioned tips may make you feel lonely and uncertain. There will come a time when you start wondering whether your work is still worth it or you will feel that your energy and passion have been drained away. For these cases, pick somebody - it may be someone from your team - who will take this role and be a mental support for yourself.
Always remember: "Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.” (Ryunosuke Satoro)
If you need support, then get it. But at the same time, be a support to others if they need it.