Since the first lockdown back in March 2020, working from home has become much more commonplace. Many large corporations didn’t go back into their offices until well after the initial lockdown was over, and many adopted work-from-home policies as a result. 

Work-life balance is certainly at the forefront of people’s minds when it comes to looking for a new role and work-from-home options are talked about now, more than ever.

I was at a CPA event a few weeks ago where Sir John Kirwan was a guest speaker. At one point during the panel discussion, he said “There is no such thing as work-life balance anymore, just life”. Over a course of an hour and a half, he discussed why, and he made some interesting points. Below is my take away from this event.

One of the things JK pointed out was the difference in work situations when comparing previous generations and our own. Today we are always connected. Our phones, laptops and tablets allow this. This is fantastic for the work-from-home scenario, but it does mean our devices ping us all the time. In previous generations, many people had to leave their work at work, because technology simply didn’t allow them to take it home the same way. I, for one, cannot receive an email and not read it. What if it’s important? The truth is, it’s very rarely something that couldn’t have waited until the next day. For this reason, I have turned off the push notifications for my work emails. I can still choose to check them if I’m waiting on something urgent, but two weeks in, I haven’t missed anything.

JK talked about how his father would drive home every night singing to the radio. This was his time to disconnect from the pressures and stresses of work and switch to family mode. Whilst driving in Auckland and the unreliability of Auckland public transport can create its own stresses, they are still different from those you have whilst at work. Working from home is a great option and can save hours that would normally be spent travelling. Remember to take some time to disconnect from work. Use part of your normal commute time to go for a walk or go to a coffee shop. Do the same at the end of the day.

For many people, including myself, setting up an office space at home isn’t easy. I initially started in my garage, but during colder months migrated to the bedroom as it was warmer. The bedroom is warm, but it does pose other issues. I now spend 80% of my time either working or sleeping in the same space and the first thing I see in the morning and the last thing I see at night is my workspace. If space allows, then set up a workspace in a part of your home you wouldn’t normally spend time in, that way when you finish work, you’re not staring at your workstation. If this isn’t possible, try a setup that allows you to put it away or hide it at the end of the workday.

Working from home has blurred the lines between work and life and it’s down to us to make sure we separate the two. Tyler Wren offers me all the work-life balance I could possibly ask for, but there are things I need to do to ensure I take advantage of it. 

Here are a couple of additional things to consider;

  • Leave the laptop at work
  • Put your phone on dnd for a few hours and spend them with the family and friends
  • Put important social and family events into your calendar
  • Have regular catch-ups with colleagues during work hours via zoom/skype

While your employer can offer work-life balance, it’s down to you to embrace it!