One of the biggest perks of remote work is greater flexibility. With the ability to work from anywhere, remote workers can take advantage of this by traveling, working from a coffee shop, or simply working from home instead of the office.
But with this flexibility sometimes comes increased pressure. If you're working non-traditional hours, or if you're not getting in face-time with your teammates every day, you might feel pressure to spend more time online and working than you otherwise would in the office. And without coworkers around to remind you to take breaks, eat lunch, and leave the office for the day, remote workers might find themselves working additional hours, and not having as much free time as they otherwise would.
In this post, we'll offer tips for maintaining work-life balance for remote workers. Whether you work remotely full-time or you work from home a couple days a week, these tips will help you stay productive at work, while still leaving time each day for your friends, family, and personal interests.
Work-life balance is a term used to describe how workers distribute their time between professional and personal obligations. When someone has a good work-life balance, they're able to allocate their time so they don't overwork and can focus on other aspects of their life like family, friends, hobbies, or social activities.
Poor work-life balance negatively impacts workers' health and happiness. They become more stressed and feel less in control at work and in their personal lives. Those who have a good work-life balance are often happier and less stressed. When you're happier you're more likely to be more motivated, productive, and do better work.
Remote workers cite better work-life balance as the top reason they work remotely. They have the autonomy to structure their workday so they can be their most productive, get their tasks done efficiently, and make time for activities outside of work.
Finding work-life balance is all about prioritization. Planning and scheduling, time management, communication tools, and productivity techniques help you manage your workday so you can complete the tasks on your to-do list quicker. Here are some work-life balance tips for a healthy relationship between your professional and personal life.
When you have the flexibility to work from anywhere, it can sometimes feel like you need to be available and online anytime, too. And if you're working on a different schedule than the rest of your team, this flexibility can sometimes lend itself to a lack of work-life balance.
If you're working remotely, try setting a schedule and sticking to it. This will be helpful for your team and for your sense of work-life balance: That way, your team will know exactly when they can and cannot reach you, and you'll be able to plan personal activities during your day outside of work, wake up and go to bed at the same time every day, and work a manageable number of hours.
If things come up on a regular basis that require you to log on early or stay online later than those hours, that could be a good nudge for you to change your working hours to be available during that time while still being mindful of using your personal time to recharge.
Once you've determined a daily schedule that makes sense for you and your team, use different tools to publicize that schedule so your team members in different locations and time zones are mindful and respectful of that time.
You can set your Slack availability so you don't receive notifications before or after a certain time of day, and you can indicate your working hours on Google Calendar so you automatically decline events taking place outside of your daily schedule. And by publicizing your hours, your coworkers will be more mindful of your personal time, and might send you an email or schedule a meeting with you instead of sending you a barrage of Slacks early in the morning or in the middle of the night where you're working.
One of the perks of being able to work remotely is greater productivity. Without commuting, walking around the office, or office chatter, you can spend more time getting work done. That said, the monotony and solitude of remote work can sometimes get lonely, and make you feel like you don't have a minute to yourself when you're working.
Instead, you can use personal errands to break up your day when you need to take a couple of minutes away from your desk or computer. That way, you'll be able to take breaks from work that are still productive and help you get personal tasks done so you can spend your time offline exercising, cooking, or relaxing, instead of rushing around to run errands the way you'd have to if you worked in an office.
If your living space and your workspace are the same place, it can feel hard to truly step away from work at the end of the day, even if you've closed your laptop and signed off. Sometimes it can feel like there isn't a reason to log off at a certain time if you're already working from the home office.
To that end, if you're a remote worker seeking a little more work-life balance, make plans for your after-work hours, and stick to them. Whether the plans include happy hour drinks with a friend or attending a workout class, if you have somewhere to be at the end of your workday, you'll be more likely to actually sign off and stop working.
The tips above also apply to people working from home, but the tips below are specifically for flexible workers who spend some of their working hours in an office, and some of their working hours working from home.
When you work from home, you don't have to rush around in the morning the same way you do when you go to work in the office. But instead of dedicating the time you normally spend commuting to an extra half hour of snoozing your alarm, get ready for the day the way you normally do. Take a shower, make coffee and breakfast, and get dressed. That way, you'll wake yourself up and mentally prepare for being productive and working hard even though you aren't at your usual desk, and you'll be less tempted to take it easy by hanging out on the couch or feeling sleepy halfway through the day.
Along the lines of preparing yourself for a productive day of work from home, you can set yourself up for a productive day if you choose the right workspace.
Working from home can be a lot more distracting than working from the office. For one thing, you're alone, without any coworkers nearby to motivate you to stay productive and busy. For another, your home offers more things to do than the office. If you work from your couch where you normally binge-watch your favorite true-crime series, you might get distracted halfway through the day. If you work from your dining room table that's covered in laundry that needs to be put away, you might do that instead of working.
Instead, work from a neat and clutter-free space in your home that's specifically dedicated to work. Maybe that's your home office, a desk, or the lobby of your apartment building. Choose a spot where you're able to work productively, and keep that space distinct from other parts of your home so you can unplug from work when you're done.
Don't use working from home as an excuse to be less productive. You might be tempted to move meetings so you're able to hold them while you're in the office, but that might just make your next day at work more challenging if you over-stuff your schedule. Instead, use video conferencing tools to hold live meetings from home so you're able to keep up with your workload even if you take advantage of working from home.
When I first started working from home, I took full advantage of working steps away from my fridge and would spend those days grazing on snacks. And as delicious as this was, it wasn't always great for my productivity or my sense of work-life balance.
In an office, you might feel more compelled to take a proper lunch break in the middle of the day for 30 minutes or an hour, but when you work from home, there are no coworkers or cafeterias to remind you to do so. By setting aside lunchtime for yourself, whether you work from the office or from home, you'll be able to take a proper break from work to nourish yourself and recharge for the rest of the afternoon.
Getting up and head outside, even if it's just for five minutes. You can stand up, stretch, and get a quick dose of Vitamin D. Walk your dog, take a stroll around the block, or visit your favorite park during your lunch break. No matter which you choose you'll be energized and ready to tackle the rest of your to-do list when you return to your desk.
We hope these tips help you maintain a sense of work-life balance, no matter where you work remotely. To learn more, read our list of remote work subreddits next.