Undeniably, we’re trending in the right direction with more remote work available than ever before. Ideally, remote working should allow you to spend more time with your family, hit the gym every day, tend to a garden, or even travel. In 2019, the average American worker spent 225 hours just commuting to and from work. That’s more than nine days of driving. Comparatively, in the same amount of time, you could have driven across the entire United States, and back, with well over a day to spare. So, what are we doing with all of this extra time?
Unfortunately, some of us are filling that time with more work. In a recent OnePoll survey of 2000 Americans working from home, 65% of respondents said they were working longer hours than ever before and felt pressure to be available 24/7. In an attempt to save commute time and find improved work-life balance, some of us have actually achieved the opposite.
The key to benefiting from working remotely is to avoid burnout by setting boundaries. Since 100% of our own employees are remote workers spread out globally, we decided to ask for their input. We wondered what they do to set the boundaries between their home and work life while working from home. With their help and creativity, we came up with the following top ten list for switching off.
Almost every one of our co-workers that we asked mentioned engaging in some sort of exercise or training as a great way of switching off. Juan Pedro Narancio, Customer Experience Associate, said going to the gym to unplug. Going to the gym or taking a run, you are not only engaging in a non-work-related activity, but you are removing yourself from the workspace entirely. Also, studies show that exercise reduces stress and fatigue and leads to fewer days of missed work. Not only will exercise help you disengage from work, but it will also ultimately improve your performance and productivity when you return to work.
Full or partial screen break
Literally switching off may be the key to switching off. Kitty Gould, Senior Key Account Manager, suggested, “Take a break from screens in general and try not to look at your phone before bed.” Avoiding burnout is best achieved by doing your best to live in the moment, and that can’t be done while staring at your phone.
Engage in a relaxing hobby
Fabio Tovar Jr., Full-Stack Developer, says that hobbies should be something that make you “relax and chill.” Get into the kitchen, try out a new recipe, or plant and care for a small garden. Find something that you enjoy doing that is entirely unrelated to your work and challenging in a not stress-inducing way. According to Business Insider, knitting is making a comeback, and early studies are claiming that it is a fantastic outlet for stress.
Always set aside some quality family time
Vanilson Santos, DevOps Engineer, said, “Ask how your family is, listen to them.” While that may seem simple, many of us are not doing it enough. Turning off the noise, putting down our phones, and having real, meaningful, and fully-engaged conversations with our loved ones are paramount to avoiding burnout.
Listening to your favorite music
Nikita Singh, Customer Experience Associate, told us that she enjoys laying back and just listening to music after finishing work. Unsurprisingly, several studies continue to show the positive effects that music can have on the brain. Stress-reduction, improved mental clarity and memory, and even reduced physical pain are experienced when listening to music.
Designate a specific workspace
When working from home, it is essential to set spatial boundaries. Defining a space for doing your remote work will help you to “leave the office” as you would normally. Clara Pusarelli, Key Account Manager, says, “Just close the computer and leave!”
Give your mind a much-needed break
When we asked our co-workers for their advice, most mentioned something to do with letting your mind rest. They responded with everything from “contemplating the ceiling” to avoiding work-related conversations with your spouse or partner. One of the first signs of burnout is a lack of mental clarity or mental fatigue. Just like our electronics, our minds need some time to re-charge.
Walk the dog (or vice versa)
This is another excellent suggestion from Juan Pedro Narancio. Of course, those of us with dogs know that they rarely offer us an alternative; when it is time to go, it is time to go. Dogs are fantastic for remote workers because they need engagement, activity, and exercise. A good walk before the workday begins to tire him out, and right about knock-off time, he will be ready for another go. You may struggle with keeping to schedule, but the pooch sure won’t! What if you don’t have a dog? Local shelters are always looking for volunteers to spend time with pets waiting to be adopted.
Turn work notifications off
Many people feel that working remotely means always being on the clock. You are entitled to your free time. Read that again. You need to set boundaries, or people will not respect them. When you are done with your 8, 10, 12-hour workday, whatever works for you, turn the notifications off. Continually staying connected to your email, Slack, etc. is not healthy work-life integration.
Get lost in a movie or a great book
Camila Aude, Client Onboarding Associate, says that movies are a great way to settle down after the workday. Movies are a wonderful distraction and a great way to give your brain a little downtime. Books can offer the same, and better yet, audiobooks give your eyes a well-deserved break also.
While these might be our favorite ways to unplug, there are hundreds of ways to close the door on your workday and jump into the life part of work-life integration. However, we often fail to acknowledge that our free time, family, and non-work-related endeavors actually make us more productive. By setting the appropriate boundaries, we ready ourselves to be even better at our jobs.