Ways To Encourage Your WFH Team To Find A Healthy Work/life Balance

Working from home (WFH) comes with its perks and its downsides. Being able to eliminate a commute gives you extra time throughout the day, you can spend more time with your kids and fur babies, and you can even get away with working in sweatpants. But there are also some disadvantages to the technology-based remote work many people are now doing. Whether you're the head of the company, the supervisor or manager of a team, or you're responsible for your own work production, finding a healthy work/life balance and encouraging your colleagues to do the same is vital in a remote environment.

Perhaps you've heard that remote work isn't as healthy or beneficial for productivity or general wellness, but that isn't necessarily the truth. Fortune reports that the reality is that working from home isn't by nature a negative influence on mental health or well-being, but instead it's a lack of healthy work/life balance that is the detrimental factor. Even hybrid positions can be harmful if a quality balance isn't prioritized. For leaders and individuals alike, supporting yourself and your colleagues to seek a work/life balance that invokes results of happiness and fulfillment can give your team renewed energy and motivation for being their best all-around. Whether someone is trying to balance work with children, pets, hobbies, or other commitments, feeling supported in their pursuits is vital. Here are ways you can provide your work-from-home team with the tools to create healthy work/life balances.

Have a separate morning routine

The way you start your morning can set the mood for your entire day. By having a separate morning routine, we mean that you should have a morning routine that is separate from your job and doesn't focus on anything related to work. Especially if you have a flexible schedule, sleeping in or staying under the covers, including grabbing your laptop or phone to check emails from bed, can be easy habits to adopt that may ultimately backfire on your work/life balance. The best thing you can do for your overall wellness is to wake up at the same time each day and promptly get out of bed, even when you don't have to sign on for a meeting or submit for a deadline. Waking up each day at the same time can help you avoid social jet lag, a term used to describe the negative effects on sleep that inconsistent wake-up times can have, per Headspace. Consistently getting up at the same time can lead to having more energy throughout the day and therefore better work performance.

After waking up, have a morning routine unrelated to work that you look forward to each day. Your routine doesn't have to be complicated or time-consuming. Try moving your body by walking, stretching, or doing gentle yoga, sipping coffee while journaling, or simply sitting in solitude for a few minutes before jumping into your day.

Create a designated workspace

Yes, you work from home, but that doesn't mean your entire house is your office. Half Half Travel advises designating one specific place within your home and using that area to create a single-use workspace. One of the worst mistakes you can make when working from home is tackling work while sitting in bed or otherwise merging spaces that you use for relaxation activities, like watching television on your sofa or eating meals at the kitchen table, with your work responsibilities. Associating the same spaces used to unwind with deadlines and professional tasks can make it confusing to know when to turn off your work mindset. 

Identify one specific space like a home office or table in your home or apartment and use that area for work only. To make the distinction between work and relaxation spaces, especially if you live in small quarters, find ways to decorate your workspace so that you have an environment clearly meant for furthering your career. You can be creative in this process by using a different color scheme for your workspace than used in the rest of your home, putting up photos or quotes from inspirational leaders who encourage you to pursue your professional goals, or brainstorming ways to physically indicate visible boundaries between your workspace and areas of your home unrelated to work. Most importantly, never use your workspace for tasks unrelated to your job or during times when you're not on the clock, such as evenings and weekends.

Enjoy non-work activities during off hours

Just like you have a designated workspace in your home, you should create specific areas intended for unwinding, relaxing, and spending time with your family, children, roommates, and pets, or for simply enjoying quiet solitude. As a supervisor of employees working from home, encourage your team to cut themselves some slack when it comes to not having every detail of a project perfected by the time they sign off for the day and to instead spend their time off from work with their families and friends, reports Inc. Contrary to some employers believing that remote workers spend their billable hours doing household chores and watching television, many people with remote jobs actually work beyond the time allotment for which they're paid because the line between working and relaxing at home is easily blurred. To cultivate a culture of healthy work/life balances, take the time to get to know your employees, such as the names of their pets or their favorite hobbies, and encourage them to embrace their non-working hours by expressing hopes that they enjoy taking their dog called Biscuit to their neighborhood park or have fun at their weekend painting class.

Since workplace culture is created from the top down, lead by example by prioritizing off-hours relaxation yourself. Though you may want to always be available to your team, your well-being is equally as important, and taking time to rejuvenate yourself can encourage your employees to create healthy work/life balances themselves.

Unplug and unwind during breaks

Staying online 24/7 and being available around the clock are slippery slopes when it comes to working from home. It can seem easy to always be connected, and you may even feel guilt over setting boundaries between your dedicated job time and personal time when you can complete professional tasks with the click of a button, but habits like these are terrible for your work/life balance and general wellbeing, per Remote. If you find it difficult to unplug, try to imagine putting up an away message or closing your laptop as being analogous to leaving a physical office at the end of the workday. A 2020 study published in BDJ In Practice found that not unplugging and unwinding can lead to burnout. Both mental and physical breaks are necessary for productivity and well-being, particularly since excessive sitting can have adverse health effects (via Fortune).

An additional tip for a positive work/life balance is to start your day unplugged, according to Half Half Travel. As you establish your morning routine, try to avoid early screen time so your eyes aren't overexposed to blue light before you settle at your designated workspace for the day. The same rule of thumb goes for the breaks you take during your work hours, like lunch or stretch breaks. During these times, encourage your employees and colleagues to unplug by physically stepping away from their computers and setting their phones down to enjoy their breaks and refill their wellness tanks.

Get out of the house

When you work, relax, and sleep in the same vicinity, it can be easy to never leave the house and sometimes it may feel like you don't have the time to do things outside of your home. Work-from-home (WFH) isolation is a real thing and its effects can span from damaging mental health to physical ailments. To defeat WFH isolation and to get a change of scenery, schedule things to do out of the home during post-work hours or on weekends, volunteer with a local organization, or search for local social groups that get together for activities in person, as recommended by Life Hacker. Adopting a pet is another great way to fight isolation and loneliness, and getting a pet that requires daily walks, like a dog, can push you to get outside on a regular basis.

Exercising outdoors or at a gym can simultaneously get your body moving and provide opportunities to socialize with other people, per Half Half Travel. Whether you add exercise into your morning routine, utilize your lunch break to unplug and move your body, or hit the gym after you log off for the day, regular exercise and switching up your scenery can go hand-in-hand for a double win of endorphins from working out and oxytocin from making social connections. Forbes reports that work-from-home isolation can increase workers' stress levels, so be certain to encourage your team to find ways of connecting IRL and have regular check-ins.

Schedule regular check ins

Checking in with remote team members is perhaps even more important than it would be in a physical setting because of the risk of work-from-home isolation, per Inc. As a leader in a remote setting, you can be creative in your ways of establishing a collective environment of connection, even if employees are located across the world. In a digital workspace like Slack, you can create a channel specifically for watercooler chat where you can check in with employees and everyone can get to know one another through casual discussion topics like sharing favorite recipes, hobbies, movie and television recommendations, and weekend activities. Additionally, scheduling time with each employee on a regular basis to not only go over their progress on work assignments but to check in on how they're feeling about working from home can help you personalize the remote workspace in a professional manner. Check-in conversations with team members, both individually and in water cooler spaces, can be good opportunities to offer tips for successfully working from home, like having a morning routine unrelated to work and unplugging during breaks. 

Half Half Travel recommends checking in not just with your colleagues, but also with yourself to see if you're maintaining a healthy work/life balance and if your work-from-home position is helping you pursue your career goals. If you find that you aren't happy with your current remote situation, check in with your own supervisor or look into other openings.