Are you working from home… or living at work?

Julie Gilson headshot

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1 min read

I asked myself this question and I believe I am working from home but I think that lots of people are living at work.

 

How do you tell the difference? 

If you are lucky enough to have a separate office space with a door and are one of those people who can switch off, then you may have nailed it. 

On the other hand, you may have got into a situation of blurred lines (without even realising), where you are working in your living space, unable to switch off and walk away, not taking breaks away from the screen, and not moving or stretching at all. You may even have your own assistant at home, like a spouse or child that will bring you food and drink. Excellent!  But actually, shouldn’t you have stepped away to fetch your own cup of tea for 5 minutes?

Pre-Covid (horrible word) some of the many benefits of working from home included:

  • Good work-life balance. 
  • Less time spent commuting. 
  • The feeling of being trusted which, statistically, means employees will give more, enhancing productivity.
  • Peace and quiet to get stuff done.

These are still benefits but with everything, too much of a good thing can be bad. Some people are unable to maintain a balance. That annoying traffic jam or train commute was actually a time in between work and home to help define both places. 

That feeling of being trusted is now a conscientious burden. “I’ll just get this done before I log off”, “It’s no problem, I'll do it now”... being able to log on at any time doesn’t mean you should. You are not a bad employee if you are not available out of hours. Don’t compare yourself to that colleague you think is always available. 

And remember, that peace and quiet can quickly turn into isolation without you even being aware of it, and this can have a detrimental effect on your health. 

Another drawback with working from home is posture. In an office, your workstation should be set up so you do not end up with aches and pains. Working from a kitchen table or sofa is not ideal. Unless you are a spring chicken and are still blissfully unaware of the existence of backache, chances are you may suffer from keeping the same position hunched over a laptop for too long.

As we move to a different way of working and more companies offer working from home, I would ask yourself this question: are you working from home… or living at work?

If you are an employer it’s important to find out whether your staff are struggling, knowingly or unknowingly? Are they able to achieve the right work/life balance, ultimately maintaining good mental wellbeing while being productive in their role in order to feed the success of your company? 

If you are an employee, you need to be honest with yourself. Do you think you have nailed working from home or do you need to make some adjustments to help you reach that balance? If you are unsure maybe ask some colleagues/family members. 

Five top tips for maintaining a healthy work-life balance when working from home:

  • Define your work area - is it functional for you? 
  • Manage your time - plan your workday so it’s structured and prepare lists. 
  • Take regular breaks - put them in your plan so they pop up and remind you.
  • Move - stand up, walk around. If you can, stretch - you don’t look silly! It’s good for you and it is a must not a should.
  • Communicate - on the phone, video, and if possible in person, regularly. 
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