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Tick – Tock – look down, look up – Tick Tock I swear the hands on the school clock did not move!  I recall with vivid memories that feeling on the last period of the day or that very last minute in school before the start of summer vacation.  That feeling of “freedom”, that feeling of absolute “nothingness”.

Alias that was eons ago and fast-forward to present day where there is an absence of “clocks”, where there is no longer set working hours or even time zones for that matter.  We are plugged “in” & “on” 24/7 whether we want to be or not.  Even more so if you are one of the 3.7 million employees (2.5 percent of the workforce) who work from home at least half the time. So how do we avoid “burning the candle” at both ends and not “burning out”?  Is it even possible to be successful at both?  To find that holy grail of work-life balance?  

Myth #1 – Working remotely doesn’t equate to hardly working!

Fact:  Remote workers have been proven to statically have a higher productivity rate simply due to the fact that well, we don’t turn off or shut down especially in the world of recruitment.  I am available in a sense 24/7 but the simple truth is while I do tend to have a type “A” personality, I also at times feel guilty because of the fact that I work remotely.  No one truly sees when I walk into the office, when I go for lunch, stay late etc. so that alone makes me work at times longer hours than I probably should hence why a work-life balance is even more important for remote workers.

Solution:  Making sure that between my actual work hours I build downtime during the day where I can step away, even if it is just for a few minutes and not worry what or who is popping up on my computer screen. To ensure I stick to this plan, I schedule a whole hour of me time where I work out for a bit and spend some quiet time in my head alone! Be sure to encourage your virtual workers to take a lunch break, get up and stretch, take a walk around the house, etc. It’s almost humanly impossible to work continuously for eight or more hours without taking short mental breaks. Shutting down at five is a challenge because I have clients on the west coast that I love and don’t want them to suffer, so I make sure to keep an eye on emails until 9pm and if there is anything urgent I happily handle it.  On weekends I have learned to truly shut down for the first time in many years and the result is, well I feel less guilty and happier and so does my family because I am living in the moment and focusing on the task at hand.

Myth #2 – My office is the kitchen table 

Fact:  I do get dressed in the morning as it helps me mentally get ready for the day ahead and what needs to get done.  I am so not a morning person but making sure I spend time on a morning routine makes all the difference for a productive day. With this in mind, it’s also critical as recruiters that we ensure we have an office-like environment somewhere in our homes, away from daily distractions. But what if we don’t have a room in our house that can be dedicated to an office?

Solution: Work with your virtual team members to help them create an office of their own as this is an important part of maintaining “work/life balance”. Identifying where you spend your time working and where you spend time with your family is crucial to finding work-life balance. Encourage your virtual workers to pick a place in their home where work hours are spent.  Setting boundaries is just as important for the people who share your world and your work space because if they keep interrupting you during your working hours that will result in you not spending the time with them when you finally do shut down.

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Myth #3:  Telecommuters don’t work as hard as those in a traditional office environment

Fact:  Any employee that slacks at home would be doing the same thing in an office, so it’s really about the worker and it boils down to their work ethic. It can often be easier to in fact get more work done from home without the distraction of chatty colleagues, unexpected meetings or lunch’s out. With this in mind, it’s especially important to recognize when your virtual workers do a great job or go above and beyond.

Solution: Make sure you are checking in with virtual employees on a daily basis and recognizing their daily achievements and hard work. It’s equally as important to refrain from micromanaging and build trust with your virtual team. They need to hear they are trusted and the work they do doesn’t go unnoticed.  Recently I had to go to an appointment that I have been putting off because it was bothering me that I would miss work. Instead of stressing out about thinking my team might think I was slacking off, I started my day a little earlier and will make up the hours I missed during the remainder of the week. It’s all comes down to finding that balance and focusing on what really deserves your attention at that point in time.

As an end note there is no True Work Life Balance unless you make a conscious effort to create one on your own.  It sounds a heck of a lot easier than it is trust me I am on week (5) and every day I have to make a conscious effort not to fall back to those bad habits of the past.  In the end because of this balance you have your employer on one side winning because they have a productive employee, with a high morale that is a Rock Star performer who costs them less in down time due to sickness, etc and your family who will thank you because you are healthier and happier and will be there for them for the little things in life that in fact are truly big things later on down the road.  And guess what?  If you do happen to want to work in your PJs one day because it’s one of those days, you can!

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