I have spent several years working in corporate leadership, advocating for work/life balance, inclusion and maintaining mental health in the workplace. When the world was hit with the pandemic, leaders, including myself, had to get very creative on how to nurture our employees and maintain productivity, all while not allowing it to negatively impact our bottom line.
Below is a common question when it comes to working from home because though employees like the idea of working remotely, they are sometimes struggling to find that structure they get from working in the office.
Since the pandemic, I have been working from home and it was what I thought I wanted prior to getting what I wanted (WFH). Now, I find myself missing the structure and the real separation of being at work and being at home. Honestly, I still like working from home, but I need to find a way to get that structure and balance that I feel like I got when I worked in the office. Hoping this all makes sense. Can you help?
Sis, I have been right where you are. The COVID pandemic certainly required all of us to be more flexible. Work from home is a convenience that is nice to have, but there is a difference between having the flexibility to work from home vs. a situation (pandemic) that causes us to quickly shift to work from home.
At the office, everything is set up the way we want it. After the shift to WFH, it was not just our office space that was different. We also had to get comfortable with not seeing co-workers, not having the opportunity to collaborate in person and managing our time in a different way. I am a big advocate for WFH, and it is important for employers to recognize the changing needs of their employees.
However, WFH can have its challenges. Some people prefer to WFH five days a week and do not miss the structure of an office. And there are others who either have a hybrid WFH schedule or WFH five days a week but still prefer some structure in their at home office environment. I am not sure what your at home office environment is, but below are 11 tips to assist you with more structure and balance while working from home.
- Designate an area that will be your workspace and set it up in a way that is most comfortable for you.
- Set boundaries so that your family/friends know that this is your workspace and should be treated as such. This is to avoid distraction.
- Stay on schedule. With WFH, it can be easy to sleep late in the morning. It is important to maintain your schedule. Get up and go about your regular routine for getting ready. The extra time you would have spent driving to the office can now be spent meditating, exercising, or enjoying that cup of coffee or tea you like.
- Make a work To-Do list so that it helps keep you on task.
- Remove any distractions (television, IG, Facebook) so that you will not be compelled to engage.
- Schedule meetings – If you would normally walk over to a co-worker to ask for advice on a project, set up a meeting to do that.
- Take breaks and lunches – It is important to step and break up the day.
- If you work as part of a team, schedule weekly lunch meetings so that you all can stay connected.
- Meal prep on the weekends so that you are not trying to figure out what you are going to have for lunch. This also helps in case you have children in the house and now you won’t have to take time away from your work to fix an entire meal.
- Maintain regular hours. With WFH it can be easy to work longer hours. Why? Because you are comfortable at home. Everything is close by and before you know it, it is midnight. We work to live, not live to work, and it is important to always take care of you. The work will be there tomorrow. What does not get done today can wait until tomorrow.
- Lastly, see if your employer will offer a hybrid schedule that will allow you to come into the office a couple of times a week. I recognize that some employers have decided to stay with complete WFH but unless they have given up the brick and mortar (the building) I would see if they will accommodate a hybrid schedule. That way you get the best of both worlds.
MA Industrial-Organizational Psychology
With a Master’s in Industrial-Organization Psychology, I have spent several years working in corporate leadership positions. I understand the unique challenges that women are faced with daily in trying to balance work life with our personal lives. Women are the nucleus of the home and are often juggling many tasks, yet Corporate America is slow to come around to the importance of balance. My goal is to help melanated women find that balance so you can live the life you deserve to live in the most sustainable way.