9 tips for healthy work-life balance in the hybrid work era
The rise of the hybrid workforce has left both business owners and employees striving to define what work-life balance looks like in this new reality. With more people embracing hybrid or fully remote work, the boundaries between work and personal life are often blurred as the home becomes your new office space. Downtime and family time may be more easily interrupted.
Over half of people surveyed (57%) reported that they are working more hours since they started working from home, according to a July 2021 study. Additionally, nearly half (47%) said their level of personal fatigue had also increased.
These numbers underscore the importance of setting thoughtful boundaries to achieve a healthy work-life balance. While separating yourself from your at-home workplace can be difficult, you can create a productive, healthy ecosystem with the right strategies in place.
While hybrid work can look different for different people, you can still set an example for others in your organization by committing to a few basic steps that create a clear distinction between work and your personal life. This will help you be as productive as possible at work while avoiding burnout.
1. You are not your work
It’s easy to become subsumed by work to the point that life outside of the job seems surreal and inaccessible. Take a step back and reevaluate yourself as an individual with interests and a life outside of work. Less time “at work” can increase your productivity during work hours, so start penciling in time for activities that let you recharge.
Reflect on all the people and priorities you want to invest in, from friends and family to hobbies and health. Have you given up long walks in the early evening? Movie night with the kids? Your favorite hobbies? What has happened to your exercise routine? Self-care is essential to work-life balance, so make sure to schedule some “you time.”
2. Set clear boundaries around work
If you’re on a hybrid work schedule, be clear about which days you’ll be in the office and which days you’ll be working from home. Let your team know the hours you’ll be available on each day. The same goes if you’re working fully from home or the office.
Even if you have a more fluid schedule, communicate clearly about when you’re online or offline on a given day. Setting your status on Webex can be a great way to quickly alert colleagues when you need to step out to pick up the kids or head to a workout class.
Be diligent about turning off the work side when it’s time—even when you’re working from home. Just because you can’t physically leave your office doesn’t mean you can’t clock out for real.
3. Stay focused
Whether it’s work time or personal time, try to focus as fully as possible on what you’re doing. Resist the temptation to log in early to check email or review the day’s work. There’s time for that in your regularly scheduled workday. Likewise, when you’re done for the day, be done. Turn off your work computer, turn off related work notifications on your phone, and turn off the work side of your brain. Don’t check work-related texts, voicemails, or emails. Stay “off the clock” until it’s time to log on again.
4. Schedule intentional breaks
Throughout the day, calendar short breaks to keep you energized. Take time for meals and periodic breaks to stretch/exercise or do something you enjoy. Having a break to look forward to can help you stay focused and motivated during your work time, cutting down on frequent, spontaneous breaks that can hinder productivity and flow. Also, leave some buffer time between your meetings, so you have time to breathe, grab some water, etc., before your next call. And consider trying out a Thrive Reset, a guided, 60-second break between meetings that gives you a chance to reflect, recharge, and break the chain of cumulative stress. Read this article to learn more about Thrive Resets and Webex’s partnership with Ariana Huffington’s Thrive Global.
5. Get a “work number”
If you need to be on-call or there’s a situation that desperately needs your attention:
- Get a different number and dedicate it to “emergency work calls” only.
- Be clear about what defines a real emergency, and only give the number to key people in your organization.
- Consider a cloud calling solution like Webex Calling that allows you to answer your work number on your mobile phone, so that you can avoid sharing your personal number with colleagues and can determine when to answer Webex calls outside of your regular work hours.
6. Use a “work browser”
If you don’t have a dedicated work PC or laptop, consider storing all your work-related logins in a different browser than the one you use for your personal internet browsing. Closing your “work browser” and opening your “personal browser” at the end of the day can provide a wall of separation and guard against notifications from email, chat, or shared workspaces that might distract you during your downtime activities.
If you have dedicated work and personal computers, resist the temptation to log into work from your personal computer and vice versa—even to check your email quickly. Not only does this help keep company information secure and your personal information private, but it also helps separate work time from personal time.
7. Use your PTO
Your paid time off is there for a reason. You’ve earned it, and you need to use it, not let it sit and accumulate or even expire. Schedule days off regularly. Don’t be afraid to take a mental health day as needed. Plan vacations and stay unplugged from work when you’re away.
8. Ask for a flex work schedule
Is every day a battle between work obligations and family responsibilities or personal goals due to clashing schedules? If you can do much of your work at any time as long as you meet deadlines, ask your employer about working a flexible schedule. This allows you to work when you are most productive, recharge when needed, and provide the attention and care your personal life requires without conflict.
There are several ways to structure “flex work,” including the two approaches below.
Option 1: A flexible schedule
You can build your 40-hour week around a core six-hour time frame in the middle of the day, with a three-hour bracket on either side. A 12-hour “work window” from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. with core hours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. allows for plenty of flexibility and a floating lunch hour of 30 to 60 minutes every workday.
Option 2: A compressed workweek
You may also make a case for a compressed workweek or two-week interval, working nine or 10 hours a day and allowing your days off to be staggered or bunched together. Flex work can allow you and your family to better sync schedules, manage childcare, and find time for much-needed R&R. Or it can leave you time for volunteer work, independent projects, or other personal goals.
9. You’ve only got so much battery life to give
Blurred boundaries can hinder a healthy work-life balance. Failure to recharge your phone means it has to operate at low power—leading to reduced efficiency. Your body and mind function the same way. When you invest time in yourself, you keep your battery charged and can be more productive.
Webex can help streamline your work life so you have more time to focus on your personal life.
Start your free trial today, and learn more about the all-in-one app to call, meet, message, and get work done.
May 15, 2023 — Kevin Adamson