Working from home is rumbling on and will probably become the norm for lots of us in the future. We can’t deny the benefits – no long commute, always someone home for those cheeky online shopping deliveries and we’re finally on top of our laundry for the first time in years. Working from home is more flexible for sure… but what about the work/life balance? When your office is in your house, how do you separate work and play?
As working from home becomes more permanent, we look at ways to keep things separate.
Assign a working space
It’s all too easy to slouch on the sofa with your laptop on your knee and Netflix on the telly, or cuddle up in bed to finish that boring report. But the key to stopping your work from disrupting the rest of your home is to keep it in a dedicated area. It doesn’t have to be a separate room if you don’t have the space, but try not to bring your tasks out into ‘home’ areas like the sofa or bed. Stick to your desk, whether that’s in an office, a spare bedroom or the kitchen table.
Set working hours
Not everyone works a standard 9-5 day – if you’re juggling childcare or homeschooling, you job share or work flexibly, you might find it hard to set proper working hours and stick to them. But it’s important to try keep some routine to your working hours, so you can fit the rest of your life around them.
If you log on in the morning and want to be finished by lunch, make sure you’re away from your desk by 1pm at the latest. If you’re working in the evening, give yourself a cut-off time and don’t work past it. Set limits for your time at work, so it’s flexible without eating into your homelife.
Change your clothes
It might sound strange, but a quick change of clothing can take you from work mode to chill mode instantly. You might not be wearing a full suit for your working life these days, but still – having a work wardrobe that you can change from at the end of the day will help switch your focus.
You could even throw on a comfy hoody and some trainers while enjoying your lunch, so it doesn’t feel like you’re sat in the work canteen when you’re having a break in the kitchen.
Create ‘zones’ through your house
The idea of ‘zoning’ is popular in interior design as it helps separate rooms that serve multiple purposes – like an open plan living/dining space, for example. The same concept can be applied to your work space and your home space – a bit of simple zoning will help keep one away from the other.
Start with big items like furniture – if your work desk is in a room that’s used for other things, push it up against a wall and mark the space around it with plants or a storage unit to create a defined ‘working space’.
For rooms that are totally separate from your work, use candles, cushions and blankets to create softness and warmth. Low lighting will instantly change the mood of a room, so if you’ve been Zooming in a brightly lit space, coming into a dim room will bring a sense of calm.
Music helps, too – have a home playlist to put on as soon as you leave your working space, with songs that make you feel happy and relaxed.