Insights for Managers

How to Help Your Remote Workers Separate Work From the Rest of their Daily Life

Cedric Jackson

June 21, 2021

With remote work, it’s easy to blur the lines between home and work.

Employees may find themselves working odd hours or answering emails in the middle of the night.

Those quick responses seem great at first. But take a closer look; it’s better to help your remote workers separate work from their daily life. 

Why the Separation? How Does It Help? 

Keeping work and daily life separated benefits your remote workers. It also benefits you, the employer. 

Boosted Productivity

Workers with clear distinctions in their daily lives tend to be more productive. This comes down to a few things. 

The first is the tendency to take as much time as you have to complete a task. When your remote workers have more time to finish their tasks, they may work longer hours.

They’ll be more efficient if they know they have to finish within the standard work. 

That shows the benefits of not letting work infringe on life. The other way around also applies. 

With a clearer work-life separation, your remote employers are less likely to give in to distractions.

From chores to visitors, working from home has lots of distractions. Getting in the habit of blocking distractions boosts productivity. 

Reduced Stress and Burnout

The other major factor is less stress that can prevent burnout. Anyone who works too much will experience higher stress levels. Overworking comes easy when working remotely. 

That stress can reduce productivity. It can make it harder to come up with good ideas, reducing the quality of work. 

By contrast, separating work and life eliminates that stress. Employees can remain productive. They will remain more positive. This translates into fewer personal days. 

Techniques to Keep Work and Home Life Separate

There are several tried-and-true methods to separate home and work. Some are up to your employees, but you can encourage them to take the right steps. 

Stick to Work Hours – And Follow Through as the Employer

What’s the simplest change to identify?

Only working during set hours. In a traditional office, employees don’t think about work off the clock. Keep this true for remote workers. Both you and your employees need to put in the effort for this. 

Start by being realistic about your expectations.

Don’t expect employees to respond to emails or phone calls outside of work hours. If you send a message Friday night, don’t expect a response until Monday morning. Let employees know this. 

Take it a step further. Tell employees they don’t need to work overtime regularly.

Feel free to occasionally ask for it, but don’t make it the norm. Don’t expect longer hours just because they don’t have to commute. That commute would’ve been their time anyway. 

Respect Days Off

Whether a weekend or a personal day, encourage employees to be serious about their days off. And do your part; don’t expect a quick response on a day off. Save the phone calls for their next working day. 

Remote workers may want to do a “small thing” on their day off. Just one quick email. One quick phone call. This can quickly snowball. Suddenly, the work-life balance is gone. 

Avoid this by letting your employees know that days off are truly days off. You don’t expect them to do anything. If you send an email, they can respond the next time they work. 

Here at Remote Creative Work, we honor weekends as time-off. In the event that work does spill into the weekends, we (the executive team) lets employees know that we will be around this weekend.

This is reinforce the notion that weekend work is not the norm, and days off are crucial.

Be Mindful About Scheduling Meetings

How you schedule meetings also affect remote workers’ home-work balance.

Don’t have too frequent or too long meetings. Schedule them during regular work hours.

It’s okay to have occasional meetings outside of normal work but make this rare. Ideally, make it optional or offer compensation, such as time off during the day. 

Encourage Dedicated Workspaces (and Maybe Provide a Stipend)

It’s easier to separate work and home life if employees can physically divide them. In other words, encourage remote workers to have a set “home office space.” Even a small space like a corner office works.

They should (almost) always work from this space. They shouldn’t do anything else from this area. 

How can you help as the employer?

If you can afford it, provide a stipend to set up the space. Pay for a desk, office chair, or other supplies. You’ll gain back upfront costs in terms of productivity. 

Encourage Work Clothes

It’s easier to keep home and work life separate if you dress differently for each. It might sound silly, but encourage employees to put on “work clothes.”

Of course, don’t require it (unless necessary for the job). You can even encourage employees to have a “work” set of casual clothes. 

Encourage Fake Commutes

One of the joys of remote work is the lack of commute. This saves time. But it can make it harder to mentally separate home and work.

Encourage employees to overcome this with a fake commute. It can be a quick walk around the block. Or maybe a morning ritual such as meditation or reading for a half-hour before and after work.

Encourage them to find something to do mentally to separate their home and work life. 

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