WFH often causes our personal and professional lives to intertwine, making it tougher for women in the workforce to balance all aspects of life. Here are some tried and tested actionable tips that can help you achieve the elusive balance between personal and professional in the WFH setup.
2020 will go down as one of the most disruptive years in modern human history. With the onset of the global pandemic the entire world was compelled to stay locked indoors. The Covid-19 induced lockdowns disrupted every aspect of human life drove us to adapt to a new-found way of life where everything functioned ‘remotely’.
The business world was one of the many casualties of Covid-19. The initial days were rife with confusion, uncertainty and even fear. However, gradually companies adapted and Work from Home became our mainstay in most of lives. Within days living rooms transitioned into conference rooms, coffee tables turned into office desks and our supportive office chairs were replaced by pillows& cushions supporting our tired backs.
Although taking work calls while still in our comfy pajamas had its charm, yet soon enough we all grew aware of WTH’s pitfalls. Primarily, with our personal and professional lives inhabiting the same physical space, the lines between the two blurred. Earlier we had clearly demarcated work hours, but with the WFH setup there was no clear time when work really ended. It shook our lives’ balance off.
Women Bore a Heavier Brunt
Although WFH became tougher for everyone, yet it was exceptionally tougher on women. According to NSSO 2019, unpaid care work is still primarily considered a female responsibility. Before the pandemic women spent an average of five hours per day on household choresas compared to 30 minutes spent by men. This divide deepened during the pandemic. Women had to bear the brunt of being the primary caregivers. With schools closing down and all family members staying indoors, women’s work increased by almost 30 percent. “Staying indoors with the entire family caused my household workload to almost double. While earlier I used to finish my domestic responsibilities and head out to work, now I had to stay home. Everyday felt like a non-stop struggle to cater to everyone’s needs,” recalls Nivedana Gupta, a Noida based marketing professional and mother to two boys.
It also impacted their general wellbeing and mental health. “Compared to men, anxiety and depression went up among women,” said Indian Psychiatric Society president Dr N NRaju to a leading daily. He further explained the cause. “In general, the entire household work is done by women, whether we like it or not. They were handling various fronts — from handling workload, children’s online classes and also looking after the needs of the husband, who was working from home during the pandemic.”
Women were thrown in the deep end struggled to balance theirpersonal responsibilities while also handling professional requirements.
The New Normal beyond Covid Era
Two years down the line and signs of recovery after the pandemic are visible everywhere. With most states having unlocked, business functions have gradually started going back to normal. However, the lessons that we learnt during the Covid 19 era will stay with us for longer. And remote working is one of them.
While several organizations have gradually begun work from office, the hybrid model is the most favorite. Especially for women, the flexibility of working from home has hit home.
The new normal post the worst of the pandemic is still rife with uncertainty which has motivated some organizations to adopt remote or hybrid work model, either permanently or temporarily. After weighing all options some job profiles are being made completely remote.
PawanGoyal, Chief Business Officer, Naukri.com elaborates, “There is a foundational change in how recruiters are setting up organisational structures. While uncertainty prevails due to the pandemic, more and more recruiters are acknowledging the benefits of work from anywhere like access to talent & more inclusion and are now beginning to make permanent changes to the human resource and infrastructure requirements at a corporate level.”
Needless to say, WFH model is here to stay.
The Importance of A Balancing Act
Now that we have established the near permanence of WFH setup, it’s important for us to understand the most effective methods for doing it. ‘Balance’ is the key word here.
It is critical that one finds the equilibrium in WFH situations. Failing to do so can negatively impact one’s mental, physical, and financial wellbeing. But when done right, this balance can be incredible advantageous.
A balanced day with clear demarcations improves productivity. Not only can one finish tasks quicker but with greater efficiency. Additionally, this balance helps one feel motivated to work. It also aids in one gaining control over life. More often than not, we function reactively. But with a well-structured life can enable us to be proactive. A balanced life is also one devoid of stress.
Expertsbelieve that a few simple steps can help us achieve a greater balance which can improve our productivity in the WFH setup. Let’s take a look at some such actionable tips.
Prioritizing is Key
Prioritizing things in life is the key to finding the balance. Given that everyone is different with differing personalities and life situations, naturally our priorities will be different too. It is of prime importance to delve deeper and identify one’s priority. Does career come first? Are relationships of paramount importance to us? Is having a laidback life our dream? Similar questions and their answers will help you understand what needs to be prioritized. “Covid 19 made me realize the importance of being financially secure. I thus prioritized my career and actively worked towards doing better at work,” explains Amrita Prasad, a Bangalore based speech therapist & special educator.
It goes without saying that being organized has a plethora of benefits. The same applies to a WFH setup as well. Right from having a realistic task list to maintaining a well-organized working & living space, there are various things one can do create an organized environment and work day.
More often than not we fail to verbalize our feelings. It could be work or family related, but we tend to suppress our feelings and expect them to go away. Often times we also wish a situation could be improved or altered yet fail in talking to the other stakeholders of the situation to make the necessary changes. So, it’s important to communicate effectively. Speak to you colleagues, boss, family, roommate, parents etc about the important things.
Here are a few tried and tested tips that can improve productivity in the WFH setup.
Begin with create a dedicated workplace and avoid working from the comfort of your bed.
Have a specific time to begin and end work & stick to it. This will help you enjoy all aspects of your life equally.
If possible create a morning routine that involves activities which aren’t related to work. This way you will feel like your day wasn’t just about work.
It’s important to plan post work activities.
Ensure to add some form of physical activity in your day.
Plan the next day in advance to ensure a positive beginning of every day.