Like many companies all over the world, a close friend told me, they had to move their entire staff compliment to work from their private homes. With the help of clever tools, they had to conduct their weekly meetings, important discussions, employee interviews and day-to-day tasks online.
The plethora of meeting platforms, fibre installations, technological advancements and software has made the dream of working from home true for many. Futurists have been predicting the death of the office for years, but Covid finally made that dream come true now.
But is it really all that great? I am starting to see more negative posts on social media about people feeling emotionally drained, physically extra tired, and many people are suddenly finding themselves working 12-to-16-hour days. Some scholars are talking about societal fatigue, pandemic burnout and some even make references to something similar to PTSD.
But why are we suddenly finding working from home to be such a challenge? My personal theory is that we are not being strict enough on our personal boundaries. The lines between working, relaxing, resting, exercising and just daydreaming have become blurred and the breaks between these activities are not so clear anymore. Some months ago, when you got home, you were home, but now work is whenever you sit behind your desk.
Not having clear boundaries between our key activities makes us feel guilty, unproductive and nailing down a healthy routine has become exceedingly difficult to maintain. It’s so easy to make the mistake of sitting down at your desk with your morning coffee and cereal and to have a quick peek at your emails, and before you know it, it’s 12:45 and you are still in your pyjamas.
Add multiple age groups with different needs under one roof and you have a raging storm of interruptions and clashing appointments on your hands. So how can we get better at creating boundaries that work?
- Make time for yourself to relax – and be fierce about it!
- Create a communication strategy that works for you and inform your colleagues and household members accordingly.
- Develop a sound and practical morning routine. Start earlier and take the latter part of the afternoon for personal use, instead of a late start that rolls over into your family time.
- Maintain a tidy and practical office or workspace.
- Detach from technology by creating no-use zones or blocks in your day.
- Take regular breaks in between tasks.
Working from home can be more fulfilling, as it is for many, than working from an office, but without proper boundaries in place, we might sooner rather than later see a return to office life.