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Seven tips for a better work-life balance when working from home

Working from home is changing the strict separation of work and home life - ‘work-life blending’ is what experts call this new fading of these boundaries. According to a 2021 study, 53 percent of employees working from home also answer work calls before or after regular working hours and 48 percent work at weekends. 44 percent of employees report having experienced some form of burnout since working from home. Despite this, work-life balance is rated significantly better from home than at work: just under half of employees say they are less stressed when working from home and only nine percent want to return to the office every day once the restrictions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic have been overcome. That's why it's all the more important to not just feel a good balance between life and work at home, but to actually implement it. We have compiled seven tips on how this can be achieved:
Written on 08/01/22

Tip 1: Make a plan

For good self-organization, it is essential to have an overview of the tasks that are still pending and to what extent they have already been completed. Based on this, you can plan your day in advance. For this purpose, a short period should be kept free in the morning. Task management tools such as Microsoft To-Do, ClickUp, Asana, or Wrike are suitable for this.

Tip 2: Keep track of times

In order to be able to complete by the evening all the tasks that you have scheduled for the day in the morning, time tracking systems such as Jira, Replicon or Factorial can be helpful. Concepts such as Pomodoro - working with a 25-minute timer - are also becoming increasingly popular. However, regular breaks are also part of time management: short interruptions to your work help you to clear your mind and thus promote concentration and performance. The best way to do this is to stand up and briefly move around. 

Tip 3: Establish (new) communication channels

For communication to work from home in the long term, it must be implemented technically. This includes not only "official" communication with internal or external employees or superiors, but also unofficial "office chitchat". This is important for motivation and to prevent the feeling of isolation when you are working from home. Virtual coffee breaks, check-ins or after-work chats can be arranged as virtual replacements for the kitchen or the water cooler.  

Tip 4: The end of the day is the end of the day

When working from home, work e-mails and calls often appear on the same device that is used privately - or your work device is simply located in one of your living rooms and is thus constantly present. The temptation is therefore great to answer immediately and to be available around the clock. Our tip: Communicate your office hours transparently and mute or completely switch off communication devices outside of these hours. 

Tip 5: Create (new) transitions

"Old habits die hard": people have a hard time shedding habitual behavior patterns. This also applies to familiar rituals associated with the transition from leisure to work or vice versa. These habits should therefore be retained: For example, switching off your PC after work or clearing your desk before leaving. In addition, new transition rituals can be created, such as acoustic stimuli like a set song or a "school bell", or drinking a cup of special "after-work tea". Another rite of passage is getting ready in the morning. Clothes, make-up or hairstyle help to put you into "work mode". 

Tip 6: Don't forget to exercise

The daily exercise of commuting to work is inevitably lost when you are working from home. Therefore, it is important to find alternatives to achieving your recommended number of daily steps. This is set to at least 6,000 and, at best, 10,000 steps. If you don’t have a smartwatch or fitness tracker you can use the following guideline values: For someone who is between 1.50m and 1.70m tall, 10,000 steps correspond to about six kilometers; if you are taller than 1.70m, the figure is about seven kilometers.

Tip 7: Communicate that you are working from home

Having a partner in the same room or children who are dying to tell you something also mixes up work and leisure. However, the older your children are, the easier it is to agree on rules. For example, you can agree that you can only be disturbed in important cases or you can ask family members to knock before entering the room and wait for an answer. Joint breaks can then be used as dedicated family time even before you officially ‘clock out’ for the day.