For many employees, having the option to clock in from anywhere has been life-changing. Working from home – or wherever – offers more freedom over your time and mental energy. But the perks come with one significant drawback: struggling to achieve work-life balance. Sure, remote work means no more commutes, overpriced lunches, and distracting colleagues who pop in for “a quick chat.” But it can also entail extended office hours, less time for loved ones, and no breaks.
Are you starting to experience these unpleasant scenarios? Take a step back and learn strategies for work-life balance.
What Is Work-Life Balance and Why Is It Important?
Proper work-life balance allows you to transition smoothly between the two areas without sacrificing your well-being. You can dedicate time to your job while leaving enough room to fulfil personal responsibilities, live freely, and enjoy yourself. The keyword here is “balance” – finding ways for your work and life to coexist so you can thrive in both.
There’s no overstating the importance of work-life balance for overall health, happiness, and satisfaction. According to a 2022 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, work-life imbalance often results in employee burnout.
The American Psychological Association (APA) warns that burnout can lead to emotional exhaustion, job dissatisfaction, and numerous mental and physical health problems. In 2019, the World Health Organisation (WHO) officially called it an “occupational phenomenon” and “syndrome.”
When you don’t take time off, you can’t recover from stress, which puts you at risk of burning out. Yes, even those who love working and derive deep fulfilment from their jobs need to take breaks.
Signs Your Work-Life Dynamic Needs Rebalancing
Unfortunately, not everyone has access to the necessary resources or support systems to juggle the demands of work and life. Some might feel like saying “no” to their superiors or being clear about their boundaries can put them out of work. Others might work overtime because their regular wages aren’t enough to meet their needs.
For remote workers who operate in the digital space, it may be challenging to separate the two because of 24/7 connectivity. Anyone can reach you beyond work hours, especially if your organisation doesn’t enforce strict rules against it. Since you can hop on a call or check emails anywhere, you may feel pressured to be available constantly.
And when you work from home, there’s often no delineation between your workspace and your personal living areas. This situation can put you in an “always on” headspace. Are you struggling to strike a balance between your work and life? Here are some signs of an unsustainable, unbalanced dynamic:
- You’re stressed, exhausted, and always thinking about work.
- You’re having trouble focusing and being productive.
- You’re experiencing health issues, like headaches, sleep problems, and anxiety.
- You don’t spend quality time with your loved ones.
- You’ve deprioritised self-care, including eating well and exercising.
- You can’t remember the last time you had a meaningful break.
If these sound like you, learn how to achieve work-life balance and get to a healthier place.
5 Ways to Achieve Better Work-Life Balance if You Work Remotely
More and more people are recognising the benefits of work-life balance. A 2023 survey by staffing agency Randstad found that two in five (41%) Singaporean respondents are willing to leave their jobs to achieve it. Meanwhile, a 2023 survey from HR services company Remote revealed that Australia ranks 4th globally among countries that advocate for it. If you want to make it a priority, too, try these tips.
1. Have a separate work area.
Creating physical boundaries between your work and life makes it easier to separate them. You don’t need a fully decked-out home office, either. Even a small desk area in a quiet, out-of-the-way corner can help. When you step out of your workspace, you can leave your work brain there, too.
2. Only work within official hours.
One of the most foolproof strategies for work-life balance is maintaining a strict working schedule. You’ll want to ensure all work-related activities stay within those dedicated hours. Don’t check emails after you clock out, turn off your notifications, and honour your personal time.
3. Schedule regular breaks.
Humans aren’t robots who can work for hours on end without resting. That’s a recipe for burnout. So, remember to take breaks to reset yourself when you’re grinding away. Get up from your desk and move around for a few minutes every hour. Go for a quick walk outside. Avoid working through your lunch hour. Cuddle your pets after a mentally taxing meeting. Bottomline: take real breaks!
4. Use your vacation days.
Most countries require employers to offer paid vacation days as part of employment packages. You deserve to take these leaves without feeling guilty. You don’t feel bad cashing your cheques every payday, do you? Think of your time off as another form of compensation for your hard work.
5. Have a 5-9 after your 9-5.
It helps to have something to look forward to after you wrap it up at your job. Some people like having a full schedule of “life admin” duties to remind them they’re more than a worker bee. These can include anything from working out and cooking a hearty dinner to spending at least 30 minutes on skincare. Some not-so-fun but essential chores can sneak their way in there, too.
Your 5-9 after your 9-5 can look like an entirely separate job, but you’re doing all that work for you. It’s the time you set aside for laundry, groceries, and self-care appointments. Are you thinking of seeking orthodontic treatment as an adult? See your doctor and ask them about discreet, comfortable solutions like ClearCorrect aligners, which straighten teeth without disrupting your busy life.
Are you a remote employee who dreams of finally achieving work-life balance? Change takes time, but following these tips should give you a head start. Remember that it’s a gradual process, and you’ll have to keep trying to maintain that harmony every day. But it’s always worth it to develop a healthier relationship with work and enjoy your life beyond it.
Boamah, S. A., Hamadi, H., Havaei, F., Smith, H., & Webb, F. J. (2022). Striking a Balance between Work and Play: The Effects of Work–Life Interference and Burnout on Faculty Turnover Intentions and Career Satisfaction. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
Randstad Singapore. (2023). Better work-life balance tops list of reasons Singaporeans resign: 2023 employer brand research. Randstand.com.sg.
Remote: Global HR Solutions. (2023). Global Life-Work Balance Index. Remote.com.
Wedgwood, J. (2022). The importance of Work-Life Balance. The Happiness Index.
Wilson, S. M. (n.d.). Avoid the burn. American Psychological Association. APA.Org.