With the pandemic changing the world of work for many industries, flexible and remote working is fast becoming the new norm, with many companies wishing to continue it in the future. Indeed, research has shown that many workers value flexible working above a pay rise, particularly because these working arrangements often result in a better work life balance and reduced travel time/costs.
That being said however, in the age of instant connectivity and constant online access, it can be all too easy for people who work flexibly to fall into the 'Always On' trap.
Three ways to avoid the 'Always On' trap in Flexible working
If you’re a professional who practices flexible working, you've likely experienced the pitfalls that come with blurring the lines between work and life at home. It's no secret that the ability to check and respond to emails whilst lying in bed comes with the increased expectation that a flexible worker will always be contactable by colleagues, clients or managers.
This can not only lead to unforeseen mental or physical health problems, but also have a detrimental impact on your performance and productivity. To ensure that you strike a good work life balance, read our top tips to avoid the 'Always On' trap.
1. When working from home, create a dedicated work space
Although the prospect of working from bed may sound appealing, the reality is that if you don’t have a dedicated work space, your entire house will end up becoming your work space. You’ll spend your time digging through the kitchen cupboards for those contracts you misplaced, find invoices under your sofa cushions, and reach for your hair brush only to pull out a stapler from the drawer in the bathroom.
Since access to outdoor spaces can be limited at the moment, it's important that you switch up dedicated work space every once in a while to help refresh your mind. To find a balance, perhaps dedicate the first half of the week to working at the kitchen table and the other half of the week on the sofa, or outside, weather permitting.
2. Set your work hours and stick to them
Flexibility is obviously a key benefit to this type of working arrangement, and no one is arguing that your hours need to be the 9-5 you’d see as a traditional workplace. But even if you prefer to work from 11:00 to 13:00pm, take a break, and start back up around 17:00 for another few hours, it’s a good idea to put that on your calendar—and stick to it. Otherwise, it’s simply too easy to have your work spill into your personal life.
If you’re part of a remote team, consider suggesting a spreadsheet documenting everyone’s hours. This will let your colleagues know not to bother you when you're off the clock.
3. Establish boundaries from the onset and learn to say 'No!'
Whether you're new to flexible working or have years of experience, it's important to establish clear boundaries as it's very easy for the lines to blur when working from home. If you have previously worked in an office, you will know that those who work in the building are rarely expected to take work home, and the same should apply to you. Ensure that you openly communicate with your boss and colleagues about your need to manage your personal life and commitments too.
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