Living through this pandemic has been challenging in so many ways. Even though it’s not a fair comparison, it can be easy to feel guilty when our work or personal life is not at the same standard it was pre-pandemic. We’ve had to radically change our personal and work lives to be safe, including working from home for many of us.
Working from home can be a mixed bag. It can be an absolute nightmare when your chair is uncomfortable, your kid is crying and your office is in the kitchen. On the flip side, working from home can also be a dream when you no longer have to commute and you are able to cook your lunch on the stove and walk the dog for a break. Every person experiences working from home a little differently, depending on their personality, work environment, personal life and other factors.
This article draws on research published by Rebecca Como, Laura Hambley and José Domene in the Winter 2021 issue of Canadian Journal of Career Development.
Being kind to yourself is integral, recognizing that you have done your best to adapt to working from home along with overhauling your life to accommodate social distancing and health regulations. However, simply pausing and remembering to prioritize work-life wellness can be challenging when the world seems to be turning upside down. Many people are overworking and forgetting to switch off at the end of the day (Gambhir, 2020).
What can we do about it?
One recommendation is to set up a wellness prompt for yourself: “Breathe.” “How are you feeling?” “Go for a walk.” You could put a reminder in your phone, add it as a task on your to-do list or ask a friend to check in. Scheduling your wellness time just like you would schedule a meeting helps increase the chances that it will get done.
“Every person experiences working from home a little differently, depending on their personality, work environment, personal life and other factors.”
Another strategy for remembering to prioritize work-life wellness is to implement the “Premack principle.” This involves pairing a behaviour you do often with a behaviour you do less but want to increase (Spiegler, 2016). For example, if I wanted to start meditating in the morning (a behaviour I do less), I would start meditating before I open the blinds (a behaviour I do daily). For this to be more effective, opening the blinds (the daily behaviour) would only happen after the new behaviour (meditating). You will want to pick a daily behaviour that can be delayed until you complete the new behaviour (i.e. eating or personal hygiene are not great choices for this as they are essential).
The bigger picture
Work-life wellness is greatly influenced by your employer and society. As COVID-19 continues to shine a light on what’s truly important in life (health, social connection, stability, to name a few), let’s build a Canada where wellness is prioritized in workplaces, government policies, building design and public debate. Career professionals can make a difference in this area by using regular career conversations with those who work from home as a platform for discussion around work-life wellness (Como, Hambley, & Domene, 2021).
Is your client having issues adjusting to a rapid remote work transition? Dialogue around boundaries, home life, work equipment and problem solving can support a client with issues around work-life wellness. Consider providing a complementary webinar for clients around work-life wellness or a resource list of helpful articles and tools. Career practitioners are keenly aware of the concerns facing workers. How can you advocate for workers outside of a session? Keeping the pulse on current policies up for debate in government and writing officials when appropriate is a great way to influence work-life wellness on a higher level.
If you would like to learn more about work-life wellness, please check out our other article on “Enhancing Your Work-life Wellness During Uncertain Times.”