A split image with someone working alone and people working in a group to illustrate hybrid working

How is hybrid work affecting work-life balance and how do you adjust?

Many office workers are adjusting to hybrid work. But, are you finding that hybrid working is affecting your work-life balance? Ayesha shares some top-tips.

How is hybrid work affecting work-life balance and how do you adjust?

Maintaining a healthy balance between your work and personal lives is vital for your wellbeing. For many people, this has been increasingly difficult during this strange time. For those of us who normally work in an office, hybrid working is quickly becoming the norm. We’ve talked about the positives of hybrid working, and how NKD are adapting and thriving in our hybrid world. But for many it can be hard to adjust to and can lead to some unhealthy situations and behaviours, as highlighted by psychologist Mark Travers.

Why can hybrid working be challenging? 

For starters, working from home could cause you to develop unhelpful habits. Some of them could be forgetting to take breaks, making yourself available all the time or excessive procrastination. Habits like these can then lead you to have feelings of burnout and anxiety, which can massively affect your overall wellbeing. 

Similarly, going back into the workplace can also cause anxiety, partly because of the changing COVID-19 situation. Many of us have become used to being at home a lot, socially distancing from others and not having to commute to work. Being at work has distractions that you wouldn’t have at home, meaning the workload we managed at home may start to feel overwhelming as we adjust back to office life. 

It might be surprising that McKinsey found that almost three-quarters of around 5,000 employees would prefer working remotely for at least 2 days per week, and over half of them would like a minimum of three days of working from home. So it’s clear that employees want hybrid to stay.

working model: pre pandemic 62% on site, 30 % hybrid, 8% fully remote. Post pandemic 37% on site, 52% hybrid, 11% fully remote
Source: McKinsey Reimagine Work: Employee Survey, January 2021

Our top tips on adjusting and maintaining a healthy work-life balance:

  1. Stick to a daily routine

If you’re working remotely, having a similar schedule to a ‘normal’ working day can be really helpful. Following the concept of ‘Feierabend’ is a great way to help you disconnect from your job after working hours. Having a good routine will be the foundation of maintaining a healthy balance between work and life. 

2. Keep away from distractions at home
Working in the comfort of your own home means that there will be distractions. It can be easy to start scrolling on social media, get started on the daily chores or having the fear of missing out on time with the rest of your household. Apps like Forest can help you keep to dedicated focus time. If possible, work in a quiet space and try to resist these distractions during the workday. 

3. Allow yourself to take breaks 
You may fall into the habit of working continuously without breaks throughout the day when working from home. This can be harmful to both your physical and mental health so, it is important to take breaks (remember to eat as well) even if you feel like you just want to keep going. Try setting alarms in your phone to remind you to take a break, or block out dedicated break times in your diary.

4. Know when to stop working 
Following the tips above, having a schedule whilst working remotely means that you should set yourself a time at which you ‘clock out’ of work. Living and working in the same environment may make it hard for you to separate the two and it can be tempting to make yourself available all day long. This will cause you to be entirely exhausted and you won’t be able to enjoy the benefits of remote work, such as having more time to spend with your family and friends. 

5. Have a time schedule for tasks at work  
There can be distractions in the office too, so allocating yourself time slots for your tasks will be helpful. This will stop you from overworking beyond the workday and ensure that you get things done regardless of any distractions. It’s okay if you’re struggling to adjust to buzz of the office, why not find a quiet space to work in when you need to focus, or invest in some headphones so your colleagues can easily see when you’re ‘heads down’.

6. Try not to worry too much about going back to work 
Going back to work after a long time might be nerve-racking for many reasons. You may feel general anxiety being around your colleagues after so long and even health-related anxiety due to coronavirus. Just remember that you aren’t alone in feeling this way and that things will get better! Try to focus on the positives of being back at work such as being around friendly faces, having the opportunity to bounce off each other’s ideas and being back out in the world again. 

7. Stay in touch with your colleagues The pandemic has affected each one of us in some way. Keeping in touch with your colleagues before returning to the workplace will make the transition easier for everyone and you can become a support system for each other during this difficult period. Make time to connect with each other’s personal life! 

8.Employers should reassure their teams
As a leader, you can play a significant part in making your team feel better. Having regular check-ins with all your employees to make sure that everyone is doing okay is more important than ever. Many of your team members may be nervous about coming back into the office and might not feel comfortable in saying so, so be empathetic to your employees and how they might be feeling beneath the surface.

Reassure them about the safety measures that are in place and ask them what you could do to make their comeback more comfortable, as well as setting up regular pulse surveys to ensure that hybrid working is working for everyone. Why not organise fun social activities and incentives like team breakfasts to remind your employees of the benefits of being back together in-person?

Also, it would be helpful for you to regularly remind your employees about having a healthy work-life balance, as they may feel more comfortable with the idea of going easy on themselves if it’s coming from you. These things can really uplift your employees’ moods, which will result in better outcomes overall. 

The Rundown

Hybrid working has many benefits, but as we get to grips with this new way of working, self-management is key. This includes disciplining yourself to get the work done and taking care of your wellbeing by not letting yourself overwork. Most importantly, have a good schedule, take breaks, and support one another.