One of the advantages of working from home is greater flexibility over our work-life balance.

But experts warn that remote work is also loosening the boundaries between our personal and professional lives.

"We have some colleagues who say it’s not so much working from home, it’s living at work" HYBRID AND REMOTE WORKING IN THE NORTH OF ENGLAND REPORT

As we return to the office, there’s a risk that those boundaries between our home and work lives will become even more blurred.

But as a manager, you can set the tone for everyone to find and implement their own balance.

✅ Share hybrid work stories

Research by Slack shows that the more experience we have of remote working, the more likely we are to have a better work/life balance.

Slack’s report calls working from home a ‘learned skill’. We need to develop this skill to unlock a better work/life balance.

The same can be said of hybrid working. We can learn more by sharing our stories of working a hybrid schedule.

Encourage your team to openly discuss their experiences of balancing remote work with office work. The best parts, the worst bits, and anything they learn along the way. Regularly share your insights to get the ball rolling.

✅ Rethink your meeting time

If you’re booking a 30-minute meeting into your online calendar, shorten it to 25 minutes. If it’s an hour meeting, shorten it to 50 minutes. The extra time saved offers a valuable break and reduces the likelihood of back-to-back meetings.

✅ Show trust

When asked about post-covid working arrangements, just 35% of employers say they trust their people fully when remote working. 39% say they don’t think their remote teams work as hard or effectively as they would in the office.

But that lack of trust is a problem.

⏱️ If your team feels monitored, they’re less likely to step away from their desk for breaks, lunch or even out of hours.

😓 They’ll overwork as a result, which could lead to burnout.

Can’t Think Monday Morning GIF by @ELFvid.

Professor Sharon Parker, Director of the Centre for Transformative Work Design, says giving your team autonomy is key. One way to do that? Focus on their outputs rather than their inputs.

Avoid the temptation to expect quick replies from colleagues, or to check how they’re spending their time. Focus instead on what they deliver.

That way your team can feel a sense of autonomy. They’ll know it’s ok to take breaks, clock off when their day is finished, and better manage their work/life balance.

✅ Establish boundaries

Boundaries can come in a number of formats. For example:

➡️ Set uninterrupted focus time on your calendar
➡️ Change your status to ‘away’ or ‘out of working hours’ on communication platforms
➡️ Uninstall work-related apps such as e-mail from your personal device

Let your team know that protecting their personal time is OK.

✅ Lead by example

When you take time out for a walk or lunch, use flexi-time or finish work early (or even on time), use subtle methods that remind your team it’s OK to do the same.

For example:

📅 List your working hours and breaks on your public calendar

🚶 Personalize your communication status to say ‘I’m out for a walk’

📧 If you’re working late, add a signature to your e-mail that says you don’t expect an immediate reply (see example below)

"I work on a flexible work schedule and across a number of time zones so I’m sending this message now because it works for me. Feel free to read, act on or respond at a time that works for you." An e-mail signature used by Laurie Greer, VP at the Network of Executive Women

💪 Over to you

Remote working offers more freedom and flexibility, but also brings work life into the home. What are you and your team doing to avoid ‘living at work’? Ask your team to share their tips next time you meet.

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