We explore the benefits of leaving your work at the office, plus some techniques to ensure you don’t bring work home with you.
If you find it hard to relax and let go of work when you leave the office, you are not on your own.
Now, more than ever, we are connected to our work and colleagues due to mobile work phones, the internet and social media, so our ability to check emails from anywhere and the temptation to remotely access the company network from home has never been greater.
As a result, it can be hard to feel like you are truly away from the office and able to unwind and enjoy down time.
Karen Young, director at Hays Accountancy & Finance, says: ‘Our recent research called What Workers Want Report 2017 revealed that almost half (49%) of workers rate their work-life balance as average, poor or terrible.
‘A little over a third (37%), when looking for a new role, said they are hoping for an improvement to their work-life balance. Our research also showed that 67% of employees would be attracted to work for an organisation that restricts out of hours working, such as over time, checking emails and taking phone calls.’
Finding a balance and knowing when to switch off can often be hard to do, of course, but the benefits can be enormous.
Taking time away from work is believed to improve wellbeing and lower stress, as well as allowing for more time with family and friends. Time off can also mean you are more productive when you are actually back at work.
Some 41% of respondents to the recent Hays research felt a positive work-life balance would mean they would be less stressed and would be able to spend more time with family (26%) and be more productive at work (16%).
There are a number of simple techniques that can help in this regard.
Being organised and writing lists – for example, ticking tasks off as they are completed – is just one of the ways you can proactively try to improve your work-life balance.
Consider setting goals for the day and, if needed, prioritise larger tasks for earlier in the day so they are not left incomplete overnight.
Another suggestion would be to turn your work phone off in the evening, unless you are on call. Whatever it is will still be there in the morning and you will be much more refreshed and ready to deal with it if you have had a good night’s sleep.
Young adds: ‘It is apparent that young professionals are wanting a better work-life balance and knowing when to switch off could be a great place to start. Employers should encourage their teams to switch off and feel comfortable about going on holiday or taking time to relax at night and at the weekend.
‘There is an awful lot to be gained both on a personal and a professional level by taking time for yourself away from work.’
It is also important to give consideration to establishing a good support network in order to be able to offload work stress. Develop a support network of colleagues and mentors who can help you manage your professional stress so that it is not a burden solely on your shoulders.
Also consider what helps you unwind and find space in your schedule for this activity, particularly at the end of a long day at work, so that when you return home you are free of the baggage that may have built up throughout the day.