In recent years, there has been a refocus on what it means to have a healthy work/life balance.
With the advent of Covid19 and the restrictions on travel, there was a major shift to utilising online resources.
The major impact was on people’s work lives and how they needed to communicate and meet their workload without being able to meet in person and share ideas and issues face-to-face.
With travel restrictions imposed during the Covid lockdown, there was a seismic shift to working from home.
There were a number of impacts that were predicted, but others that were unforeseen.
Without the chance or need to travel, the daily commute for most people was eliminated from the working day.
This meant that most staff were able to start their day at the given work hour and make use of the extra time that was saved by not travelling to and from work.
This was a double-edged sword in many respects.
Work/Life balance and the tipping point
Despite Australia being known for its laidback lifestyle and Australians as having an easy-going nature, many consider themselves to be ‘time poor’. Many find themselves faced with the problem of juggling an increasing number of conflicting commitments.
Rather than working less because of the restrictions to travel, 10% of the Australian workforce were working above 50 hours a week.
This has a major impact on someone being able to achieve a healthy work/life balance and in some cases, it is near to impossible.
With those added work hours comes the inability to ‘switch off’ and the line between work and home life is blurred beyond recognition.
The question is, ‘What exactly is a healthy work/life balance?’. Defining that term is the start of being able to achieve it in the real world.
The work/life balance in reality
There are many terms that people take for granted, yet don’t take the time to look at in detail or in practicality. The idea of a work/life balance is one of those.
Balancing your work/life aspects gives you a sense of control and harmony. There needs to be a blend for work and home life that feeds each component.
There is a great strength and empowerment when you are able to balance your work and personal life in a workable way.
It is often the case that the individual will have a greater work output and of a higher standard than someone who is stressed and overwhelmed with deadlines that limit their downtime.
The factors at play include:
- Following your personal values
- Keeping the boundaries between the two worlds
- Managing time commitments
- Enjoying both your work and leisure time
Without feeling a sense of satisfaction with your work role and duties, there is a limited chance of appreciating the life you lead.
New ways of looking at work
With the changes to the way people worked during the height of the Covid19 restrictions, there was a focus on people’s well-being.
Spending many hours of the working week in online meetings and relying on email and messages rather than conversations that would normally take place in person, people found a disconnect with their teams.
The issues of mental health began to play out in many sections of society and across different industries.
There was a shift in focus in how to make work more collaborative and add a fun factor to the time in isolation.
This is when initiatives such as daily icebreakers, virtual team pursuits and happy hour games came to play. Creating a sense of work/life balance from the employer showed that there was a level of care in looking out for each employee.
There was also a trend to think outside the box by including work dress-ups where staff were encouraged to go as far as they liked within the limits of good taste. This is when people were ordering the contact lenses online Australia hadbeen using for parties and fancy-dress occasions.
With the chance to do something unusual like wearing coloured contact lenses, Australia had a growing number of the workforce enjoying the simple act of being silly together in a safe environment.
While some people were caught up in looking for niche items online like a special cigar humidor or the latesthumidification pouch, others were re-examining their lives and revisiting their priorities.
Working from home has its own pitfalls.
The fine line between work and play
One thing that is at the core of achieving what you want in your work/life balance is the matter of setting boundaries.
These boundaries need to be clearly defined and the rules around using them should be followed as strictly as possible.
It is often easy to let work commitments drift into leisure time and working from home sets a precedent for blurring the lines between both.
To get more out of that balancing act, it makes sense to set specific protocols such has shutting down your laptop or computer at the end of the working day and closing off your workspace.
The physical act of separating yourself from the work area in your home is fundamental to making a clear and clean break from your work.
Another idea is to dress for work and then change your clothes into something more casual to redefine the role you are playing. Going for a walk or leaving the house allows you to make a clear mental break from the rigours of work.
This divide takes patience, dedication and discipline but has greater rewards for your well-being than you may first realise.
On the other hand, many experience a problem of having to leave their domestic duties behind when they are working from home. The chance to quickly take care of a mundane task such as emptying the dishwasher or putting on a load of laundry can be very tempting.
Doing this only in the time before or after normal or set work hours will stop that blur of roles and commitments.
There is definitely an upside to having downtime and to know that you have a specific time where you ‘down tools’ and leave your workspace until the next working day can be extremely beneficial.
Avoiding the issues of stress and anxiety is possible by utilising the resources available. Seeing your GP about these matters is just one possible path to protecting your well-being.
Finding a healthier balance in your work and home life is a rewarding goal that deserves your time and attention.