Leading a balanced life is a goal for which we all strive, right ? Academic research spanning decades support the notion that a balanced work and home life can lead to increases in job satistfication as well as feelings of home contentment. This is no different for remote workers working from home fulfilling remote job tasks and responsibilities.
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We use witty banter to discuss work life balance. Sometimes its the topic of the day in many media circles and particularly in the human resources profession. But what does the concept really mean? Prominent researchers in the industrial organizational psychology field define work life balance as a condition that occures when there is a lack of conflict or relatively little incompatibility between an employee’s family and work roles.
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Maintaining a healthy work life balance when working from home
Work Life Imbalance is Lack of Fit
From a mental health perspective it is argued that the mismatch between a person’s expectation of their remote job functions, availablilty, resources and setting and what actually transpires can lead to stress. Experts call it ‘a lack of fit.’ We may be familar with the lack of fit between an employee and corporate culture, a lack of goal congruence between a worker and his manager, and a lack of agreement between former partners undergoing a separation or divorce.
Lack of Fit Predicts Future Remote Job Outcomes
Work life is no different. When an employee filling a remote job works from home there can be a misalignment between one’s assumptions held before accepting a remote job and the actual conditions existing when the remote job begins. This lack of fit can lead to stress which starts and maintains a cycle that interfers with one’s internal equilibrium.
Not only are imbalances between work and home life negatively impactful for one’s mental state, it can be detrimental to one’s financial livelihood. There are studies which show that the lack of fit between an employee and his environment can predict future employee job performance and their behavior while on the job and working for the company.
Research appearing in the Human Resources International Journal describe situations whereby remote workers tend to view the attributes of a desirable and undesirable remote work life balance in the extremes. These results were striking as that the researchers did not focus soley on US participants. Rather subjects were from many different countries: Italy, India, Australia, China, France, the Netherlands, Canada, Spain, Israel, the UK, Germany, Lithuania, Romania, Greece, Turkey, Iceland, Ireland, Singapore, Ghana, and Argentina. to include the United States.
When there is a fit existing between the remote employee, the requirments of his remote job and the demands of his family life, work life balance is possible. Further, when the expections is fully aligned with one’s environment positive individual and professional outcomes are the result.
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But we still haven’t found the answer to our most pressing question. We now know that imbalances can occur when a remote worker’s expectations do not match real life experiences. But what are the triggers?
There is human resources research out there in the public forum to suggest that these 4 factors can be the precipatators of an imbalance between home and work life.
Triggers Precipating Poor Work Life Balance
- Stress brought about by job roles and one’s role in the family
- work role conflict and work role demands
- famiily role conflict and parental, spousal demands
- Levels of intensity at which the worker is concurrently required to be involved with his/her job role and the family role
- Availability and or lack of social support to fill in the gaps when juggling both roles
- Characteristics of home and family
Having a work life balance isn’t about being perfect or trying to mentally calculate and accurately divide your time and tasks straight down the line in a 50/50 percentage split. Maintaining your own personal and professional balance leading to a state of equilibrium and homeostasis is the goal. You may need to undergo some self reflection to find out what works best for you. It may be that you need to set boundaries, and prioritize what is important in both your personal and professional life.
- You may be interested in downloading our free personal Work Life Balance workbook here.
Deeply satisfied and content remote workers who hold remote jobs and work in remote teams by working from home or working from anywhere have been known to have similar success habits. These habits allow them to be productive at work while at the same time be relaxed and happy at home. If you want the best of both worlds, it would be a great idea to develop some of these habits.
Set Clear Boundaries Between Work and Home
One thing that people with a good work/life balance always have is a boundary. The boundaries are exactly what you need to keep your personal and professional life separate, but also ensure you have a healthy balance of both.
Setting boundaries is something you should do early on in your journey to improving your work/life balance. Remember that you need them at work and at home, and they require open and honesty. Communicating your boundaries can feel intimidating, but it’s really important during this process.
Mental Check in
It is really important that you check in with yourself and our routine as often as you can. This is how you know you have found a good balance in your work and home life, and also to make adjustments.
Every once in a while, ask yourself these questions:
- How is my personal life going? What is getting in the way?
- How is my professional life going? What is getting in the way?
- What areas of my life need some work?
- What can I change in my routine to allow for more self-care?
- What issues am I having with the people in my life?
- What is most challenging at work?
This should help you figure out where to make adjustments in order to improve your work/life balance.
People with a good work/life balance not only practice self-care, but they understand why it is so important. When you can truly see the benefits to your emotional and physical health of self-care, you start prioritizing it a lot more.
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Self-care is a way to be more self-compassionate and show yourself much needed love and attention. It allows you to have some time to do whatever it is that makes you feel good and happy. It can be pampering or indulgent, a quiet and relaxing activity, something creative or musical. Nothing is off limits here.
Everyone has distractions, so you might not be able to avoid them completely. But some distractions are definitely optional, and these are the ones that people who focus on their work/life balance are able to avoid. This might include sitting on social media for hours and just doom scrolling or wasting time, letting notifications on your phone distract you all day, or getting caught up in other people’s drama.
Distractions can occur both at home and at work, so don’t assume just because your workday is over, the distractions aren’t harmful to you. Think of other activities you could be doing with that time that would be more enjoyable.
Advocate for Self with Open Communication
Self advocacy is vital for work life balance. Therefore open and honest communication is important for many reasons. But, when it involves maintaining a healthy work life balance, it is vital for setting and following through with your personal and work boundaries. How can you expect someone to respect a boundary you haven’t even told them about? Further, when you are open, there is no need to brood or act passively and agressively.
Try to communicate with others about what you need, what your boundaries are, or what isn’t working out for you. This might be your boss or a colleague, your friends, or even your neighbors. It is all important if it is affecting your quality of life.
Use Effective Time Management
Your plan for each day of your life drives your daily actions and activities. Therefore it is critical that a schedule and routine are developed. This is what makes up all your time. It involves how you figure out how much time to spend on your career, and how much to spend on your personal life. But without good time management and the ability to organize your time, it becomes almost impossible to keep up.
By having a schedule with your work and personal obligations, you are able to see exactly how everything is balanced out.
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