Employers might assume that the work from home opportunity can provide their employees with a great work-life balance. However, it is not that simple, and the risk of employee burnout still prevails strong.
A lot of people are telling me that the work from home fun is over. It has now extended to extra work pressure, unlimited and irrelevant skype messages, and even midnight calls from bosses. Basically, in work from home scenarios, employees are considered to be always available. And to top it all, there are the pay cuts. A report indicated that employees are working longer hours since they’re telecommuting instead of in their regular office setting.
“In India, employees are working way beyond 48 hours a week, crossing the International Labour Organization’s norms of working. According to the labor standards, the general standard is 48 regular hours of work per week, with a maximum of eight hours per day,” says the ILO website.
Getting straight into the matter, here are six tips that can keep your working hours in check when working from home.
1. Use your commute time as personal time.
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People are losing track of their time because they don’t have to commute anymore- which is the most common signal of starting and ending the day at work.
Take advantage of your commute time. Get a bath, have breakfast, read newspapers, meditate, or do any physical activity. Do anything you want aside from working. The same applies when it’s time for lunch. Stop your work and get up to have lunch with your family. Make sure to leave your work from home desk for breaks- maybe for a walk, tea break, or for some time to call or text your friends in the afternoon. And finally, you should know when you need to stop working. By doing these, you will establish a healthy work-life balance. Only then, you can kick start a new day in the morning.
2. Block your time for specific tasks.
To control your time efficiently, plan work-time periods for different activities. For example, you might devote three hours to handling a new project in the morning, one hour in replying to the relevant emails, and another two to three hours in learning a new skill every day. It would help if you also keep some time open for anything important that might need your immediate attention. Scheduling your time this way can break the rigidity of your work and keep you on track.
3. Set (and achieve) goals.
Only having a time frame isn’t enough; you also need to set goals on what you’re trying to achieve in that period. So, setting up SMART Goals should be a part of your work from home structure. It will identify the steps that you need to take to achieve your goals and evaluate your progress periodically. Regardless of which target setting strategy you use, practice before discovering and continuing with the approach that works better.
For some additional encouragement, you can stay organized by writing your to-do list in sticky notes and keep it easily visible.
4. Limit the external interruptions.
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Avoiding distractions is the first step to increasing your productivity within the working hours. And the key to reducing distractions is in becoming more self-disciplined.
We all have interruptions from family members, household chores, social media, and much more. Knowing the weaknesses that get us off track can help us hold the line on responding to those interruptions. That is why having a separate home office with a door is preferable, but not all of us have the space for that. One of the most basic decisions you will need to make here is to arrange a dedicated space for the purpose, whether you work in the dining hall or the bedroom. Also, you need to plan out your day as much as possible, focussing on the most critical work. Eventually, you will see the distractions getting more comfortable to handle.
5. Take advantage of the flexibility.
Frankly, work from home is a lot about flexibility, without losing our productivity. It has come as a golden opportunity for the early risers as well as the night owls.
Let’s take an example. Grace Montgomery, a senior editor at Zapier, wakes up early and works a two-hour shift from 5 am – 7 am. She takes her seven-year-old kid out of bed and sends him to school, and at 8:30 am, she starts work again. Her work gets over by 2:30 pm, and she is ready to spend the rest of the day with her son.
Again some people get more creative and energetic after dawn. Some others might still prefer to work longer hours on some days to give themselves a break on other days.
6. Stay accessible during the day.
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Out of sight, out of mind can be a real problem for remote workers
– Sara Sutton
Staying inaccessible can not only hamper trust, but it also increases the likelihood of work mismanagement. Again it all depends on your attitude- how do you want to complete your tasks? Do you want to be in constant contact with your colleagues, be responsive, and complete your job on time? Or do you want to stay unreachable in your working hours? The latter will surely find you in confusion and cause unwanted work pressure.
It is also the other way around. Your non-responsiveness can pull back important management decisions. Let’s take an example. Typically a team leader works on having a first-hand discussion with the team members, followed by a consultation with the leadership team before making an important decision. If you are on the leadership team and miss out on the communication on time, the whole process gets stagnated. It can make others feel irritated and also hard-pressed to get the job done after the working hours.