Since lockdown turned us all into homeworkers, some of us are putting in longer hours at home than when we worked in an office. This is an interesting phenomenon, but not a healthy one. In the long run, productivity and work/life balance are more important than how many hours you spend at your desk. In this blog, we look at why working crazy hours is bad news, and what we can do to keep work under control.
Work is important…but it’s not as important as wellbeing.
Temporary home offices being what they are, sitting at your desk all day is probably not doing your physical health any good. Working from a laptop is bad for posture, and I bet your chair leaves something to be desired too. Back problems are on the rise now we’re all working from home – don’t become a statistic!
It’s not good for mental health either. When someone works “all the time,” they become defined by their jobs, not by who they are. This is very bad for our confidence and emotional health, especially at a time when we all need to be resilient.
If you think long hours are a sign of a good worker, it’s time to adjust your thinking. Here are three things to bear in mind:
Be honest. If you’re at your desk for ten hours a day, how productive are you really? With no train to catch, are you aware of how long it is taking you to finish tasks? If your answers reveal inefficiencies, it’s time to work smarter.
Remote team-working is easier when you all follow similar hours – remember to think about other people’s needs too.
Think of the money. According to the ONS, the average employee is contracted to work 40 hours per week for £36k per annum. That works out as an hourly rate of £17.30, so if you start to work longer hours, your worth decreases. (All the supermarkets are recruiting extra shelf-stackers at the moment – just saying!)
Now you’re ready to shorten your hours, here’s how!
Choose working hours that work for you and stick to them. You don’t have to work 9-5 – an earlier start might suit you better, but remember to finish early too.
You know how long a task should take you. Check the time when you start and make sure you’ve finished promptly. Just because no one’s nagging you, it doesn’t mean you should allow the task to expand to fill the available time.
Use a time management app. There are apps to remind you to take breaks and look away from the screen – some even give you simple stretching exercises.
Try and maintain your usual work pattern e.g. If you usually read a book on the train, read at home for the duration of your train journey instead. If you usually go to the gym at 5pm after your day at the office, get changed and do your exercise at home at 5pm too. And if you and the team usually go to the pub on a Friday, why not have a drink together on Zoom instead?!
As VAs, we manage our own time at home every single working day. We’ve found that good time management is efficient, dignified and yields the best results. If you think your home working hours are getting out of control, follow the tips in this blog. Good luck and stay safe!