Work-life balance in an always-on digital office space

work life balance

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Although productivity has increased on average 35% during and post lockdown as most organisations have moved operations into a more digital environment, the work from home movement has removed some norms that traditionally created the line between work life and personal time. “Clocking in at 8am signaled the start of a working day, and subsequently, the 5pm sign off meant it was time to shift focus to the kids, partner, dinner, dogs – you name it!” says Jacqueline Raw, Owner and Founder of marketing consultancy, Ycagel. 

Jacqui explains that in the absence of these critical markers, the lines between work time and playtime have been blurred, “We are spending more and more time online, take calls later and later and start the day earlier. With this increase in productivity and the aggressive drive to be ‘always on’, it is essential to find ways to mark off specific time for work and the rest of life, because if we don’t get this right, we may just become the Burnout Generation!”

She offers 4 top tips for creating a more balanced lifestyle:

TIP 1. Define your working hours:
This might seem obvious, but remote work has seen our days have getting longer and longer! Defining your working hours doesn’t necessarily mean blocking off 8 to 5 for work. It’s rather having the flexibility to work when you’re at your optimal performance period. That means that your day might look different from your fellow colleagues. We all have different rhythms – find your best time of day and schedule your work around that.

TIP 2. Wait 30 mins before you switch on your devices for work:
Most days we rush straight to our desks to plug in, often way sooner than we ought to out of the fear that we might not be seen to be ‘working’. This is such a destructive mindset – performance is measured on delivery, not minutes plugged in. Next time you find yourself meandering the direction of your desk, stop yourself, make a cup of coffee and spend a few minutes chatting to family or friends – you’d be surprised at the additional personal benefits you will reap in your life.

TIP 3. Plan email and meeting free days:
Yes, now that you’ve had your shot of anxiety for the day – you’re going to have to let that sink in. The objective with these ‘offline’ days is to give you the space to think, plan and execute. It’s impossible to get anything done effectively when you’re continually banging out emails or stuck in another online meeting. Try this just once and you’ll never look back – offline days are your most powerful weapon in taking back control of your work life – you’ll get more done in less time!

TIP 4. Set clear boundaries:
Decide on your cut-off time in the evening and then stick to it. Don’t respond to WhatsApp’s, emails or calls after your cut-off time. The quickest way to make the people in your life feel like second best is to put work first 24 hours a day. This single act will strengthen your relationships with the people at home, which in turn means that they will allow you more room when you are plugged in and need to focus.

“Things will never be the same again, and that’s not a bad thing. We’re meant to grow through life and being able to adapt to this new world is evident of how resilient we are. Just make sure you’re not sacrificing your reasons for working so hard (which is usually a better life for the family) by not being on-purpose about making time to do both work and life and do them well!” Jacqui concludes.

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First published on: ForbesAfrica