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How to manage the border between work and personal life while working remotely?

How to manage the border between work and personal life while working remotely?

With the Covid19 crisis, the transition into remote work has been sudden, almost instantaneous. With no preparation time, we strived to meet all obligations and keep all projects ongoing. Faced with countless tasks, ranging from minimum to greater importance, go and cover for every single angle has been the rule at the beginning. Life took a dangerous turn centered solely around computer and telephone.  After a few weeks, fatigue set in and it became obvious that keeping on that rhythm is not possible.  

Adopting strict and basic rules of personal organization is the first step. Think about managing your space and your time 

1- Setting up physical limitation within the home base between workspace and living space has become critical.  

Evolving 24 hours in the same confined space, sleeping in the office or working in the bedroom became very messy, unproductive and absolutely unbearable.  

A spare room dedicated to work is not always available, in this case tidying up of the workspace at night is a good habit to hide all documents, tools and work traces. The use of cloud-saving contributed to improve all aspects of organization and create a more relaxing  “clean” private space. 

2- After delimiting the workspace, time management fits in.   

Full flexibility brings in precious advantages in terms of freedom and autonomy but also some limitations which highlight the necessity of a fixed schedule.  Get up, get dressed and sit properly behind a real desk, not the kitchen, the bathroom or your laps,  for a preset number of hours.  

When working with several time zones the challenge is more difficult to tackle:  Extended working hours is part of the job and the notion of private life barely exists. To keep the projects going calls or videos might have to be taken in the middle of the night. Setting up an on and off status on working tools, computer and telephone and sticking to the rule no calls, no checking messages or mails during these intervals is a good solution. 

3- Listening to your body alerts when it is time to make a break.  

It is an easy and tempting solution but working from home does not mean that you should remain stuck to the computer all day long and stay enclosed.  It is counterproductive and coffee breaks should be replicated. 

A good substitute is to replace the commuting time by time spent getting outdoors, early morning and in the evening to get fresh air, exercise and relax, above all avoid filling it with working hours. 

Breaking the walls of isolation is a delicate challenge but Step 2 

Non-stop facing of the same four walls can rapidly turn into an unpleasant feeling of seclusion and isolation to be broken for keeping your sanity.

1- Communication might not cascade down anymore and has to be spread horizontally to the entire team. Ensuring proper understanding of clear objectives and directions cannot be neglected and it requires extra time, efforts and attention. Keeping a productive and efficient team comes with the solid flow of information. You do need to be its center but trust that it does circulate smoothly within the team. 

2- Communication tools are plenty and making full use of them is key to efficient remote work. Ensuring that everybody is fully fluent with the whole technology does contribute to a good team interaction. Yet, extra caution is required, making intensive use of all the latest tools can be fascinating but it can also turn into an unmanageable and unproductive time-consuming burden. All meetings or conversations should serve a real purpose and bring in an actual benefit. If not emailing might be sufficient. 

 

Step 3: And keep your focus as well as your motivation on making full use of all your free time, even though it means accepting to squeeze in videos or calls.  Always allow yourself to set aside additional valuable personal time to relax. More than ever after-hours hobbies are necessary! 

We should experience remote work as a chance for developing new organization and new culture rather than an obligation.  

 

Before its generalization during the Covid 19 crisis, implementation of remote work throughout the industrialized world has slowly but significantly increased. It definitively brings valuable benefits for both the employees and the employers but several drawbacks make it uneasy to use. In an infancy stage, with its current lack of regulations it could prove to be a real danger for the work life balance of the employees. To definitively become a part of the new work organisation which is shaping up, its boundaries need to be clearly fixed.   

 

If you would like to find out more about how we can  help you working remotely, manage your team and preserve a healthy work life balance contact us  or send an email to  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Christine Etcheparre 

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