Working from home does indeed have its benefits. Those who have made the transition will no doubt be grateful that they no longer have to endure queues of traffic on their daily commute and can fully enjoy their now readily accessible home comforts. However, whether you work in a traditional office environment or from home, achieving the right work-life balance is no mean feat, and something many of us are still trying to perfect.
We often assume that working from home is the best way of attaining a healthy work-life but it’s rarely the case. With more distractions at home than in a traditional office setting, and our homes designed for comfort rather than productivity, the two parts of our lives often awkwardly intrude on one another.
Whether you’re working from home full or part-time, temporarily or on a long-term basis, there are actions you can take to minimise the negative impact of a merging work-home life. Try out a few of our tips and we’d like to think you’ll notice a significant improvement to your work-life balance, hopefully resulting in a less stressed and happier you!
A Productive Focus
Your initial focus when trying to achieve the all-important balance between home and work life is productivity. If you are successfully able to fulfil your work tasks within your normal working hours, clearly the rest of your time is free to spend as you choose.
Your work space will play an integral role in your productivity levels so ensure it meets your needs. A cluttered desk is a big no-no, as are constant interruptions and anything else you find distracting. But what DO you need to remain focused? A certain type of lighting? Easy access to frequently used files? We all have different requirements when it comes to being productive so there’s no right way or wrong way of setting up your WFH space. Just ensure your office environment is comfortable, meets your needs and limits annoying distractions.
A Rigid Routine
One of the best things about working from home is getting an extra few minutes in bed in the morning. You can set the alarm for a little later and enjoy your morning coffee without clock-watching and rushing to avoid the traffic. However, throughout the course of the day you are more likely to be distracted from work tasks, whether it’s by the washing machine, postman or by the very fact you are your own motivator and dependent on your own self-discipline to get your work agenda completed.
The best idea is to create a work from home schedule and stick to it. By adhering to a strict routine you maximise your chances of meeting targets and completing tasks without sacrificing valuable time with your family. Make sure you plan out your working week and let other household members know the schedule! There are some great apps and tools available online which will help you to organise your tasks so you can keep track of timescales and progress.
A Separate Space
If you are going to get even close to achieving a positive work-life balance, then it’s imperative that you keep your working life as separate as you possibly can. Physically closing the door on your work day is an important mental cue. A dedicated work space which is well away from the main living areas of your home is preferable, and whilst not always achievable, there will be certain areas which make for a quieter and more comfortable working environment than others.
If space is an issue and you don’t have a separate home office, set up a dedicated work space in another room. Converting a box room or underused space is ideal, but end of hallways, the cupboard under the stairs, the shed, may, with a little ingenuity, offer the perfect location for a peaceful WFH zone.
Fitted furniture is a handy solution for those who are short on space and storage. A desk with shelves or cupboards for files and electrical equipment can easily be incorporated into a bedroom design, so your guest bedroom, or if necessary your own bedroom, could become multi-functional. If your bedroom is the most suitable space to work in, make sure you use the WFH area for its purpose and then clear your laptop and files away at the end of each working day. As tempting as it might sometimes seem, taking your laptop to bed will quickly blur the edges between your home and work life and make it far harder to achieve a healthy work-life balance.
A New Perspective
Okay, so the constant distractions and the difficulty in remaining motivated are both disadvantages to working from home, but the benefits cannot be denied. The flexibility this lifestyle brings with it is one that most of us who work from home would be reluctant to give up.
If you’re struggling to find inspiration for a project, need some quiet time for problem solving or have had a particularly difficult Zoom meeting, sometimes stepping away from your desk is the best solution. Taking a break in the staff canteen is nowhere near as rewarding as taking an hour to de-stress on your own sofa or walk the dog. Allowing yourself a 5-minute break to prep dinner or load the washing machine won’t drastically impact your progress and will in fact free up additional “me time”. So, set a routine, limit the distractions and create a workspace which promotes productivity, but don’t forget to embrace the positives!
At Hartleys we’re good at designing bespoke home-study furniture for rooms of all shapes and sizes. With a keen and creative eye, even the most unpromising of spaces can be transformed into a work space which will be a pleasure to use and help you achieve a good day at the office! To talk to one of our fitted furniture designers, call 01756 700471 or visit our Skipton showroom and workshop.