Top Tips for Work-Life Balance While You Work from Home
Angie Noorman and Amanda Gray, April 7, 2022
3|SHARE has been working remotely since we were founded in 2011. However, remote work became the reality for many other companies fairly recently, possibly even yours.
As a remote company, we’ve had the advantage and flexibility of recruiting talent from all corners of the world instead of restricting ourselves to one specific area - the area surrounding the office. Our experts currently live across 12 countries, working from their own “offices”, and we hope to add more countries to that list in the future!
Working remotely comes with many employee benefits as well. Without a physical office, you no longer need to waste precious time or gas money commuting to and from work. You can work from the comfort of your home, from a coffee shop, from your front porch - anywhere you feel most productive. Working from home also means you can choose and control your distractions. For example, you don’t need to worry about Bill Lumbergh (Office Space reference) constantly disrupting your focus when you’re in the middle of a project. Being remote can also provide additional flexibility in your personal life. For example, you can take your dog for regular walks, be closer to your gym or your child’s daycare, grab groceries over lunch, or be home when you’re expecting an important delivery or a service person to show up.
For many, working from home sounds like a dream come true, especially considering the benefits. But for others, working remotely is still a new concept and can come with unexpected challenges. Some may find it hard to focus, some may have a hard time balancing work and personal life and some may even feel isolated without the social interactions that typically come from being in an office. Anyone who has made the transition from an office to a remote environment will tell you it isn’t always easy. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all routine and it can take time to find a routine that works best for you. No matter what your situation is, know that you’re not alone in your struggle. We have plenty of ideas for overcoming these obstacles! Through trial and error and testing some of these techniques, you are sure to find the perfect balance to meet your needs, professionally and personally.
To assist in your journey of finding the best work from home routine, we reached out to our 3|SHARE experts for their thoughts, tips and tricks! The feedback we received boiled down to 5 main points, each of which we will elaborate on.
- Establish a Regular Morning Routine
- Create a Dedicated Work Space
- Take Regular Breaks
- Set Clear Expectations and Boundaries
- Don't Hesitate to Reach Out
Establish a Regular Morning Routine
A morning routine can help remind you that you are still going to work, even though you aren’t commuting to an office. Having a “before work” routine helps get you into the right mindset by waking you up and preparing you for the work day ahead. Here are a few tips to try incorporating into your morning routine:
- Use the early morning hours to work out or clear your head - walk, run, bike ride, stretch, meditate
- Before entering your work space take some time to complete personal tasks - shower, get dressed, brush your teeth, eat breakfast, make coffee/tea, spend time with family
- Before opening your email/calendar, make a to-do list of things to accomplish that day. Try to tackle the “dreaded” tasks first.
Essentially, you want to act as though nothing has changed except where you work; you’re still getting up and beginning your work day. And even though you don’t NEED to shower or brush your teeth to sit by yourself in your own “office”, you should consider it.
Create a Dedicated Work Space
A dedicated work space can help you to separate work life from home life. Ideally this space would only be used for working. This will force you to physically enter your work space when it’s time to work, and leave when it’s time for personal life. Check out some ideas to create a space that’s best suited for you:
- Decorate your space to promote positive energy and productivity
- Some have mini gardens or drawing sets, others have referred to their work space as their “man cave”
- Consider setting up an ergonomically friendly and energizing work space
- Utilize external screens + mouse vs. laptop when possible
- Sit in an ergonomic chair to promote good posture
- Try a standing desk or treadmill desk (if you’re coordinated)
- If possible, set up your work space in a separate room so you can shut the door and walk away at the end of the work day - out of sight, out of mind
- Don’t be afraid to change up your scenery or environment when you need some creative inspiration. Head to a coffee shop, the front porch or even different areas in your house
At the end of the day, we want everyone to work from wherever they feel most comfortable and productive. And, ideally from a place they can walk away from at the end of the work day. If you don’t opt for a dedicated work space, it can be difficult to separate work from home and that can lead to an unhealthy work-life balance.
Take Regular Breaks
Working from home can come with the misconception that you must always be online and available. Please do not let this deter you from taking necessary breaks throughout the day! In an office, breaks are normal. Taking a break increases focus and improves productivity. Breaks can also relieve stress which helps with mental health, well-being and overall job satisfaction. Our 3|SHARE employees had some great recommendations around taking breaks:
- Go outside and get some fresh air - walk, run, bike ride, take the dog(s) out, shoot some hoops, run a quick errand
- Try to take any snack or meal breaks away from your work space - don’t eat while working
- Meet a friend for coffee or lunch
- Do a brain teaser, draw, play a song and dance, stretch, play table tennis, play guitar, water your plants
- Finally give your mom, dad, grandma, or grandpa a quick call back
Please take regular breaks - anything that will positively fuel and energize you throughout your work day. Taking breaks will not only benefit you, they will also benefit those around you and even the work you’re able to produce.
Set Clear Expectations and Boundaries
With employees and clients across 10+ time zones, it’s important that we set clear expectations and boundaries from the start - internally, externally and even at home. With the exception of the one-off emergencies that should only happen seldomly, everyone should be able to work within their normal business hours. Just because your home is your office, does not mean you are available or should be available 24/7. Here are a few ways some of us set boundaries:
- Remind clients of time zones across the team and schedule meetings within the overlapping business hours, whenever possible.
- Respond to messages (Email, Teams, Slack, Jira etc.) within your normal business hours, except in the case of a true emergency.
- Set your notification preferences on Email, Teams, Slack, Jira etc. to only notify you during your business hours - this will help you shut down at the end of your day.
- Inform your family of your daily schedule so they are aware of the times you need to focus.
- Be intentional with your time both at work and in your personal life.
- Off-set extra work hours with personal time and vice versa for unplanned personal time (sickness, parent/teacher meetings, etc).
- When you’re on PTO, be on PTO.
At 3|SHARE, we believe in a healthy work-life balance and to achieve that we all strive to set healthy boundaries for ourselves, our teammates and even our families when applicable. Next time you agree to that 10pm meeting or phone call, just remember; if you give a mouse a cookie, he is going to ask for a glass of milk...then a straw...then a napkin...etc. Remember, always be intentional and clear with expectations and boundaries from the start
Don't Hesitate to Reach Out
Even with all the best tips and tricks in the world, working from home can still be tough. We are not regularly socializing as we typically would in an office setting and it can sometimes be difficult to know where to go or who to ask when you need something. For some, working from home can feel isolating and if we do not feel connected, we may struggle internally. Don't let it overwhelm you. Reach out to your team for support. A few things to always remember:
- Don’t be afraid to reach out to ANYONE for support - even if they are not the right person, they can surely point you in the right direction.
- If you have colleagues who live near you, see if someone is interested in meeting up for coffee or lunch!
- Consider scheduling 15 min “catch up” meetings with coworkers, even if you are not actively on a project together - take the opportunity to connect and get to know one another. Basically, intentionally run into each other in the “break room”.
- When applicable, suggest a “video on” meeting for more personal engagement. If video calls aren’t required for your company, you may just want to give a proper heads up before the meeting.
- At 3|SHARE, we are a collaborative community and we have created Teams channels for non-work subjects. Examples of channels we have created for anyone to converse in when they have something to share are: Books, TV, Films, Foodies, Kid and Pet Pics, Travel and “What’s Good Today” where we just share good news with each other.
For us at 3|SHARE, the benefits and positive factors that come along with working remotely outweigh the challenges. We have no plans of changing our work from home approach or mentality but, we do realize challenges around working remotely still exist, and likely will never completely go away. That is why we are dedicated to continuing to provide avenues through which our employees can connect outside of the “office”. Through programs like our 3|SHARE Learning Series and Annual Company Meeting (in the Dominican Republic later this year), we continue to encourage employees to socialize and meet up. We hope you find these tips and tricks helpful and we are always open to new ideas for bringing our family even closer together.
Angie Noorman and Amanda Gray are Senior Project Managers and Business Analysts at 3|SHARE. They are both passionate about the work they do. Angie enjoys building relationships and understanding goals and obstacles from a client's perspective in order to suggest soutions that will provide optimal results. Similarly, Amanda enjoys finding unique solutions to client's needs and motivating her team.