An old rule exists in some parts of Europe, that barred employers from contacting employees after work hours. This doesn’t come as a surprise as some countries like France and Portugal have strict laws protecting employees. Most of Europe is now slowly jumping on the bandwagon to make similar laws that focus on employee downtime. This latest law is an attempt to encourage employees to disconnect at the end of the workday in order to improve work-life balance. Having said that, the real question is, is it better to separate your professional work life and personal life or learn how to integrate them both by forming boundaries using a holistic approach. How to keep personal and professional life separate, now that workspaces are redefined?

Since the pandemic broke loose, the entirety of our workforce was forced to embrace remote work culture. Of course, everything was hunky-dory at first. Many employees still don’t want to find their way back to the workplace having gotten a taste of working from the cushy interiors of their bedrooms. But is this the answer for the future of workplaces? Working from home has its share of disadvantages. This was highlighted during the pandemic as those who hadn’t worked remotely realized that separating work life and their personal lives became extremely difficult. Especially because they both occur at the same place and sometimes at the same time.

Many companies have come to the understanding that the hybrid model of working will help companies retain some of their management. But unfortunately, employers often exploit the dark side of remote work. This causes much stress amongst employees who can’t change jobs. There was much insecurity about the job market as well during the start of the pandemic.

As bedrooms are transformed into home offices. Our dining tables and kitchen countertops are now cluttered desks, it becomes difficult to escape the office. It starts to take over your life and that’s when work becomes inescapable. As work from home gets popular, the lines get blurred between professional life and personal life.

Here are a few reasons to ensure your professional life is kept separately from your personal life

Recharge time

You are expected to give your job your all, but that can catch up with you if you aren’t careful. Relaxing and recharging your mind and body is essential. Stress levels can shoot up if you don’t make time to recharge. This can lead up to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.

Lessen the stress

Being stressed can result in burnout and this stands to be a common problem in a lot of workplaces. The physical symptoms of burnout are fatigue, aches and feeling nauseous. Building boundaries and setting work hours will help you reduce stress and have a good work-life balance. Create boundaries between work life and your responsibilities at home.

Increase productivity

The world around us can be very distracting. This is why drawing a boundary and allotting time for each task is necessary. Some tasks do extend themselves into the day and it’s crucial that you identify those and work on them within a time limit. Sometimes a commute can break up a day and stops your projects from running into the evening.

Engagement levels

Employee engagement levels will decrease if they are not taken care of. If an employer doesn’t interact with their employee personally, it can come across as they don’t care. Employers that make demands of workers after hours send the message that the company’s needs are far more important than their employees’ personal lives.

Improved home life

Time spent with friends and family gets better when you’re less stressed and more energized. By keeping regular hours and observing a boundary between your office and the rest of the world, you can create time and space to spend with loved ones, work on personal projects, and tackle chores around the house. By untangling your work life and life at home, you can give both sides the attention they deserve.

How can you keep home and professional work lives separate?

Stay consistent

Establishing a daily pattern is important. If you are working from home, it’s best to have a routine in place. The commute to work is important and if you don’t have one, set yourself a routine and make sure you stick to it. If you have difficulty sticking to a schedule, it’s best you create a dedicated home office for yourself. Additionally, schedule your work time and that will help demarcate between work hours and personal time.

Communicate your working hours

Inform your colleagues of your availability and your work hours. Don’t be afraid to communicate your availability. Creating an expectation with your co-workers around your accessibility can help draw a line between work and home. Avoid sending or replying to non-urgent emails outside of work hours. These can almost always wait.

Take a stand

At times, there might be a need to burn the midnight oil. It’s the frequency of after-hours work requests that can negatively affect employees’ personal lives. Failure to stand your ground against an employer that asks too often will eventually result in more requests and less personal time.

Manage your time

For a week or two, make a note of how you’re spending every hour of the day, whether that’s working, relaxing, socializing, or sleeping. Knowing the shape of your existing work-life balance is the first step toward adjusting it.

Offer a solution

Prioritizing work-life balance shouldn’t turn into a stand-off between employee and employer with threats of quitting and firing. Try to offer a solution that your employers will understand and abide by as well. You can attend to urgent requests first thing the following morning. The more employees show they want the team to succeed and are not just trying to avoid work, the more understanding employers will be.

Find a quiet desk away from home

Renting a dedicated workspace by the day is an excellent way to stay productive and properly manage your time. You can even find a coffee shop to sit at to finish your work for the day. This greatly helps put aside the deeds for a day. Co-working spaces are also popping up around cities. You can find a dedicated desk here.

Workplaces are undergoing numerous changes. The acceptance of remote working is the most significant. It was always important to strike a balance between work and life, but Covid-19 has shone the spotlight on its importance. Embracing a holistic approach to hybrid work models and remote working methods is needed at this point. Although the flexibility creates difficulty in disconnecting outside of traditional work hours, there are ways to create balance between personal and professional life and make things work in your favour. Choose the option which suits you to maintain a healthy boundary between your professional work and your personal downtime.

Discover more in leadership courses at Physis.

Sailaja Manacha
Sailaja Manacha

Sailaja Manacha, a Master certified Coach from ICF, is known for her programs and coaching methods that combine psychology with leadership practices. In her work, Sailaja draws from Psychology, Ontology, NLP and Spiritual frameworks as well as rich, real-world experiences.

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