Work from home (WFH) folks report higher preference for this way of working than working from an office, but it also comes with challenges. In this first of a three-part series, we’ll list some of the ways we’ve been managing the challenge of unplugging after work hours. Stay tuned for parts two (difficulties with collaboration and communication) and three (loneliness) in future issues.
Like many of you, I have now come to think about modern times in two periods: pre-COVID 19 and post-COVID 19. Much has changed in the way we communicate, socialize, and conduct business after the pandemic.
One aspect of this change is the shift towards more remote work across the globe. A study by Owl Labs found that 16% of all companies in the world are 100% remote. Lockdown after lockdown, companies had to adapt to conducting meetings and collaborate virtually (since 2020, people have been meeting 50% more since COVID-19). And even after the lockdown restrictions eased, many companies chose to maintain this work style. They did this mostly by leaning heavily on technologies that have had to step up their game in order to meet the new market requirements of a more virtually connected world.
However, this comes at a cost. WFH employees report challenges in this lifestyle, the key ones being not being able to unplug after work hours (ranked #1 challenge by 18% of WFH employees surveyed), difficulties with collaboration and communication (ranked #2 challenge by 16% of WFH employees surveyed), and loneliness (ranked #3 challenge by 18% of WFH employees surveyed).
As a fully-remote company, we’re very conscious about these challenges and how they impact our team members’ wellbeing, so we started implementing a few solutions to manage them.
In this first of a three-part series, we’ll tackle the challenge of unplugging after work hours. Stay tuned for parts two (difficulties with collaboration and communication) and three (loneliness) in future issues.
- The best approach to this is really a top down one. From senior management, the message should be unified and clear: make the most of your work hours and honor the time you’re set to log off, including vacation time. No exceptions.
- Using Google Calendar to set work hours visible to the rest of the team. If you use Google Workspace, Google Calendar can be a powerful tool. When used right, it can save team members a lot of back and forth coordinating logistics or turning down invites outside of work hours and having to reschedule them. Here’s how you can set it up.
- A prelude to the above is setting up your work hours in a smart way, one that a) overlaps sufficiently with the rest of your team members and, b) gives you enough flexibility in your off-work life. By not doing this right, you risk meetings and deliverables bleeding into your off-work time and end up working longer hours because of it.
- If possible, have a dedicated workstation at home that you can physically walk away from when the work hours are over. If that’s not possible, we recommend at least using different browsers or different Google Chrome profiles to keep your personal space separate from your work space.
- Set up friendly notifications for when it’s time to log-off, for example this fella popping out to ask ”You’re still here? Time to log off, buddy”
(Image by (Joenomias) Menno de Jong from Pixabay)
- Learn to say “no”. Sometimes, even the most well-intentioned colleagues may ask you to work on something or meet at a time outside your work hours. Most likely they just don’t know that it’s outside your work hours, in which case it’s your responsibility to clarify that and work together to figure out an alternative time.
- Stay patient: change takes time. As we start getting used to a different way of collaborating, remember that it will take time before people get into the swing of it. Be patient with yourself and your teammates 🙂