How to Maintain a Work-Life Balance When Working Remotely
The borders between home and work can be intentionally blurred in remote workers. In this case, work pressures spill into non-work life as reflected in the inability to ‘switch off' and the difficulties encountered in unwinding at the end of the workday.
Work-life wellness is defined as the ability to feel balanced in different aspects of life and feel well about the connection between work and non-work lives. Work-life balance is significantly associated with our mental health and mental well-being. Researcher Lunau and colleagues (2014) found that poor work-life balance was associated with lower health and mental well-being in European workers.
Remote work is associated with great flexibility and independence. However, it is not always easy to be flexible and independent if you do not have the appropriate conditions for that. As research shows, remote work can mean more isolation and less collaboration (Siquire, Dias & Medeiros, 2019). On the other hand, it also has advantages, such as the opportunity to save long commute times (Weikle, 2018).
What is the best way to get the most out of working remotely? How to maintain satisfaction and good functioning of work and role, with a minimum of role conflict?
Suppose we integrate our work with personal life. In that case, we might have trouble setting boundaries and making time for what is essential. In this case, to maintain work-life balance, these four life dimensions are critical (Cooksey & Mcdonald, 2019):
1. Mental well-being - recognizing and managing stress;
2. Physical health - paying attention to what we are consuming, managing weight, exercising, and resting;
3. Social interaction - maintaining communication with the people we care about;
4. Spiritual well-being - engaging in activities that connect our inner-self and the world (e.g. meditation, visualization).
Why is it essential to maintain a work-life balance?
It is vital to recognize the connection between an unhealthy, unbalanced lifestyle and the inevitable loss of productivity and subsequent non-achievement of work. There is a significant difference between what desire to do (productivity) and our capacity to produce desired outputs. Losing the work-life balance can stifle the capacity to produce desired outcomes while compromising the necessary fuel that drives our performance over an extended period of time-term.
Looking for a work-life balance means being able to set precise work and life boundaries. Otherwise, you may experience burnout and wonder why you lose motivation and interest in the job.
How to take care of four life dimensions?
The mental dimension of work-life balance relates to our emotional well-being. Emotions can cover the entire spectrum. Some of them are more pleasant, while some are less - unpleasant emotions can interfere with our performance, which results in poor productivity. One possible way of trying to overcome unpleasant emotions is to give yourself a mini reprieve. Choose a day when you want to relax and take a break from work - this way, you will be able to spare some time for the things you love doing. Another way is to analyze and reflect on what might be generating these unpleasant emotions. First, identify the unpleasant emotions, look at the causes, and isolate these causes rather than wallow in the general unpleasantness. If the reason for the negative emotion is not within your control, recognize that fact, acknowledge it and adopt a healthy perspective towards it.
In order to maintain a balanced immune system, consider eating properly, sleeping well, and avoiding excessive consumption of stimulants.
Without communication with our loved ones and those we care about, we often feel isolated and lonely. Social support has found to have a buffering effect on life stressors. Research shows that maintaining relationships and getting social support was a particularly useful tool for reducing the chances of burnout (Kim et al., 2018). Considering work-life boundaries, we need to remember that relationships are like plants - they need to be regularly tended. Remember to check up on your loved ones and pay enough attention to ensure that the relationships in your life are thriving.
Have you ever looked at a beautiful picture, a magnificent view, or listened to a piece of music and felt this excellent inner feeling? Something about it touched you, and you felt a little better because of it. If you have had that sort of experience, you interacted with your spiritual, inner self. For some, that connection is made by hiking up a mountain to admiring the view, while for others it could be just having some quiet time on your own, listening to music, a meditation guide, or praying. You would be surprised at how little time it actually takes to connect our inner self with the world and how beneficial it is to our mental well-being.
Overall, our well-being is a critical determinant of our future success. While incorporating these four life dimensions, we can get the maximum benefits of working remotely. It is important to mention that taking care of one or two dimensions is not enough - all four dimensions need to be incorporated to achieve the best possible positive outcome of working remotely.