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Work-Life Balance in the Age of WFH
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06 Jan 2022

Work-Life Balance in the Age of WFH

Remote work is here to stay—is that going to work for you?

Working from home was a tantalizing perk for many workers way before the COVID-19 pandemic forced us to pack up our laptops and head home. In 2019, a Buffer study found that 99% of interviewed individuals wanted the option to work remotely for the rest of their career and 40% said the biggest benefit to WFH life is the flexibility that it provides. Who hasn’t done a load of laundry during their lunch break while working from home? It’s a great feeling!

But even before the pandemic, when only a small percentage of people were working from home, the #1 struggle people reported was knowing when to unplug. 22% of the same individuals that wanted the remote work option said they didn’t know when to log off and tune out from their office after finishing an 8-hour workday at home. Of course, during the pandemic, this inability to mentally “clock out” of work worsened. According to a survey of 2,800 workers by Los Angeles-based staffing firm Robert Half, 70% of professionals who started working from home during the pandemic say they now work on the weekends, and 45% say they regularly work more hours during the week than they did before.

So, let’s do our best to do less! Here are four ways to try and add some ‘normal’ back into your WFH day so that you can create sustainable boundaries and keep enjoying the benefits of working from home long-term.

Four Ways to Fight WFH Burnout and Build Routine

Clearly communicate to your colleagues when you’ll be unavailable

  • Email, Slack, Microsoft Teams—even texting. There are innumerable ways that people can get in touch with you in the digital age and when no one can tell when you’re “in office” they’ll certainly ping you when you’re trying to be off the grid. Set a precedent with your boss and colleagues by turning off work notifications at a specific time every night. If there’s an emergency that only you can handle, they’ll still be able to get a hold of you—trust us.
  • Hot Tip: At Off Center, we use Slack, and to communicate our status, we use emojis. At Lunch? Sandwich emoji. Taking your dog for a walk? Dog emoji. You can even sync up your calendar and your emoji will automatically change to a calendar when you are in a meeting.

Add some movement into your day

  • Annoying advice, we know. However, moving around your apartment and/or getting outside can help you WFH without feeling claustrophobic.

Don’t work where you sleep

  • If you can, find a room besides your bedroom to work from. If you have a spare room—perfect. If not, see if you can turn part of your living room or kitchen into a comfortable makeshift workspace. Anything that keeps you from working 8 hours a day in a room that you’re supposed to sleep for another 8.

Adjust your routine to have new checkpoints

  • Sometimes any space outside of the bedroom is hard to come by (we get it, we are a Chicago-based agency, after all). In that case, mark the end of your day with something that can replace your commute. Maybe you used to drive home and listen to a podcast—go on a walk and catch up with the pod! Maybe you would meet your daily Duolingo goals on the bus—puedes aprender en casa, just take a couple lessons from your couch. Even if you’re not moving around physically, make sure you have a routine you can enact when you need to transition into the next phase of your day.

As the pandemic wanes and many offices open back up, the new balance of working from home vs. working in the office is top of mind for everyone. We know the value that working from home can bring but now—more than ever—we know how taxing it can be for our mental health. Keep the WFH option available for yourself by setting healthy boundaries and establishing a routine. That way, no matter where you’re working, you’ll be able to remain flexible and avoid burnout.

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