graphic of someone working at a desk with a speech bubble balancing work and life

How to Enforce Work-Life Boundaries When You Work from Home

Back in the pre-COVID days, the separation between work and home was fairly straightforward.  You left home for work, commuting however long it took, then reversed the process at the end of your workday. It was simple to understand whether you were working or not.

Without even realizing it, we all had certain rituals we performed to get us into and out of work mode. Take a moment to think back on what you usually did—maybe you listened to a certain podcast while commuting, or always casually socialized with a certain colleague on your way past their cubicle or office. On the way home, you would visit the yoga studio or gym before getting home to kids and family.

Now, with the advent of Shelter-in-Place policies that have made working from home a necessity, those rituals are lost. When your commute is a stroll down the hall from your bedroom to your “office” at the kitchen table or living room couch, you aren’t receiving the same cues about when work begins and ends.

The good news is, as researchers have found, is that most of us are more productive at home, enjoying the flexibility to easily fit our work around home and family needs.  The bad news is work is creeping into more hours of our days, and anecdotal evidence is robust that these blurred lines are driving many of us nuts. 

How do you mark the mental end of your workday? 

Without a commute, people are struggling to find a definite separation between their work and personal lives. Instead of shutting down the computer and rattling home on a crowded train at 6 PM, many people are working later than ever, “just one more email” stretching into an extra two hours hunched over the laptop.

For many of us, commuting was linked to the rituals getting us into and out of “work mode.” But that transition doesn’t have to come from a physical commute. Research shows that the most-desired commute length is 16 minutes, so when you’re working remotely, take that time to find another way to transition into and out of work mode.

Try starting and ending your remote workday by consciously taking a 15-minute walk. In fact, walking is a form of active leisure that’s shown to significantly reduce stress, something we all have a lot of right now. 

Give Yourself a Feierabend

In Germany, the Feierabend (“End of working day” —English) is a daily evening celebration marking the moment when work is switched off for the day — often accompanied by a hearty German beer. I’m not really a beer drinker, but love the idea of marking workday’s end with a fun beverage. Whether you finish the day with a beverage, a snack, going for a run, or calling a friend, find a ritual that can mark the end of your workday and give you something to look forward to. These daily routines help you celebrate what you have accomplished during the day (rather than focusing on what still needs to be done), bringing an enjoyable closure to the day.

It really doesn’t matter what form your Feieraband takes; just intentionally choose something to allow yourself to draw a firm line between work and home.  You, and your loved ones, will greatly benefit from the practice!

About Office Evolution

At Office Evolution, we provide virtual office, coworking, and private office solutions at our shared office center. We offer meeting rooms, offices for rent, hot desking in a shared workspace coworking lounge, a shared reception, a business address, and virtual receptionist services. We have many options and price points, and all terms are flexible. Plus, you become part of a community of like-minded professionals.