With remote work being more prevalent within modern organizations, work-life balance has become an actionable priority for many stay-at-home professionals – remote leaders in particular. As managers experience the numerous challenges that come with leading from a distance, their stress and burnout levels are increasing at an accelerated rate. A recent employee survey showed double the number of comments referencing burnout since March of last year, alluding to improper remote work-life balance. If you’re a manager who is finding it difficult to maintain a separation between work time and personal time, we have a list of insights to help you develop a stronger work-life balance.
Steps Leaders Can Take During Work Time for Better Work-Life Balance
Design a Schedule
There is a multitude of steps you can take within your daily remote work routine to instill a healthy work-life balance. To start, design a schedule that works for you, not against you. To do so, be sure to pinpoint times within your current routine where you feel most productive or when you’re feeling less motivated. These highs and lows will be the basis for designing a new work schedule. If you are more productive in the morning, consider using flexible hours to begin your workday earlier and vice versa. Once you have your desired start and end times figured out, stick to them! Logging off is one of the more difficult habits for remote leaders to adopt, but it can ultimately chip away at your personal time, leaving you with no time to spend with family, friends, or on hobbies. It’s important to give yourself plenty of time to wind down at night, so make a schedule that will give you ample time to relax
Pick the Right Space
When designating an in-home workspace, look for a quiet area as far away from your home’s more energetic rooms (e.g., living room or kitchen). This will help to avoid distractions like television, kids, and even pets. It also helps to create a better divide between work and personal space to make it easier to disconnect. Be sure to invest in the right furnishings for your office space, starting with an ergonomic chair and desk. These will prevent physical aches, improve posture, and you’ll feel more comfortable as you conquer the work tasks at hand. Also be sure to include plenty of storage to keep your home office tidy and uncluttered. Being organized has proven to increase productivity and also allows you to compartmentalize and prioritize tasks. To start organizing your workspace, check out these helpful tips for designing an office space.
Take Personal Time Off
Taking personal time off is key to work-life balance, and as a leader it should also be a top priority within your organizational structure. As entrepreneur Robert F. Smith states, “I really think about that holistic approach to business, and when you do that you have the chance now to not only liberate the creative spirit in those companies but frankly a higher output that then can impact their communities in more effective ways because the more those companies are thriving and the people are excited about being there, they actually can give back to the communities in many ways.” Taking personal time off gives you a much-needed reprieve from work tasks, and provides you with the time to recharge and apply your energy to things outside of the office. A lack of time away from your desk can quickly lead to feelings of being overworked and mentally drained, which ultimately impacts your mental health. Having a few days of personal time to relax, attend events, catch up on rest, and tend to errands and to-do lists, can leave you feeling ready to tackle work with a fresh perspective.
As a leader, you should also encourage personal time off for your team members. It’s easy for many professionals to run on auto-pilot and neglect taking personal time outside of planned obligations and vacations. Encourage your team members to take personal days to reset, especially if they are showing signs of burnout. If you’ve noticed a downturn in their overall productivity, focus, motivation, or mood, consider prompting them to take some time away from work. Studies show that employees who feel supported by their managers are 70% less likely to feel the effects of burnout. As a leader, be a resource and support system for your employees and be sure everyone is taking the time needed in order to be the best they can be at work and at home. Plus, don’t forget to schedule time off for yourself!
Steps Leaders Can Take During Personal Time for Better Work-Life Balance
Get Back to Your Hobbies
It can be easy to lose sight of your hobbies when work takes priority and you lack energy due to a poor work-life balance. When your workday concludes, be sure to power off all of your devices (i.e., computer, work phone, etc.) in order to completely disconnect and be present in activities that allow you to melt away the stress from the workday. Find hobbies that interest you and can help you to reduce stress levels like exercise or perhaps more creative projects that will give your mental clarity a boost. As psychiatrist Jean Shinoda Bolen explains, “When you recover or discover something that nourishes your soul and brings joy, care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life.” Make time for the things you enjoy so you can have a moment to recharge and are at your best for the following workday.
Take a “Staycation”
It can be easy for your home to become strictly associated with work when you work remotely, reducing its ability to act as a comforting haven. Take time to make your home the tranquil space it used to be prior to it becoming your work environment with a staycation! Spend a few days sprucing up your non-work living space to make it a place you want to escape to after the workday concludes. Do a few DIY projects, add a fresh coat of paint to the walls, or simply buy your favorite flowers to give your home new life and give you a change of scenery. It can be easy to feel “stuck” at home as a remote manager so don’t be afraid to try new designs to keep your space exciting. Then, spend some time watching movies, playing games with your family or friends, or hosting dinner parties. Getting together with loved ones is one of the best ways to relax and unwind from a busy work schedule, and making your home a fun space to be in again is the first step in your home becoming a relaxing gathering place.
Self-Care is Key
Self-care and work-life balance go hand in hand. Self-care is about taking care of yourself and can be anything from a spa day, a good night’s sleep, or even getting a few household chores accomplished. It all depends on what makes you feel your best. Taking care of yourself will allow you to be more present in the external aspects of your life, like work for example. When it comes to your physical health, be sure you are exercising your body in a way that works best for you. Try starting small with a thirty-minute brisk walk each morning and be sure to eat nourishing foods to balance the exercise and give your body what it needs to refuel. Your gut health is also directly linked to your mental health, so stock your refrigerator and cupboards with the healthier snack options you enjoy.
Mental health is also important to maintaining a proper work-life balance, but it can be difficult to determine where to start. Consider starting with a good night’s rest. Oftentimes, leaders of organizations have a lot on their minds, causing them to have high anxiety levels and restless sleep patterns. Try going to bed at a reasonable hour each night, and avoid the urge to reach for electronic devices an hour before you hit the pillow. Set your alarm for the same time each morning (even on the weekends) to get your body conditioned to a steady 7-8 hours of rest. This will not only leave you feeling recharged for the workday, but will give you more energy to enjoy your personal time. Take things a step further with a workout, meditation or yoga, which you can also plan into your workday schedule for short much-needed breaks in between tasks.
For remote leaders, work-life balance is often put on the back burner. As you know only too well, managing a remote team is no small task. It can seem all-encompassing and many times take precedence as your number one priority. We hope these tips will help you (and the teams you manage) find a healthy balance between work and personal time. A work-life balance that will leave you feeling both mentally and physically at your best!
Looking for more ways to improve workplace productivity? Contact the Ariad Team to learn how we can help!