Work-life boundaries are more important than ever as more and more people are approaching burnout with prolonged amounts of time spent at home. As many companies decide to either become hybrid or fully remote post-pandemic, some are worrying how they will function in the new society that is inevitably coming. The key to this new way to work is rest.
Rest is not a new concept and many are aware of its importance, yet, we struggle taking that much needed time to reset our minds. Virtual work can feel like an added burden on our ability to take those breaks and is a concern for many moving forward. However, it has been found that virtual work is actually associated with positive evaluations of work complexity and learning potential (Nurmi & Hinds, 2016). Computers have unlocked a global realm of possibilities for the modern business person. In turn, remote work that includes global participation can increase satisfaction levels on an even greater scale than remote work that is solely local.
I know what you are thinking, what’s the catch? All of these positive outcomes are mitigated by sufficient resting periods. Only when there was enough time to rest in between these virtual work days, did employees find their work to be extremely productive and satisfying. There is no magic number of hours or minutes you should rest, rather your body will send you signals that maybe it could use a break. When you are debating whether you should take the time to rest consider these outcomes that you will be missing out on.
Innovative performance: You know that feeling when you start working and everything has started off perfectly, you feel focused, your work is enjoyable and before you know it you have already gone through half of your day. These times are what makes work enjoyable and it may be when you have your most creative ideas. If lately you have felt as if these days are few and far between, perhaps it's because you have not been getting a sufficient amount of rest. When your body is tired your brain runs on autopilot to preserve what little energy you have for the day. Naturally, as you rest and refuel, your brain has more leeway to be creative.
Job satisfaction: As you continue to work from home, you may be dedicating more and more time to your work since there are no formal hours, especially if you are working with people from all over the world. Eventually, as the new situation becomes less exciting and the hours feel longer, your satisfaction with your job may begin to decrease. When you do not stop to rest and take breaks it takes longer for tasks to be accomplished, resulting in frustration with yourself and your job. It would be better not only for yourself but also your employer if you would take the rest necessary to function at a higher level during the hours that you do work. You might even find yourself enjoying your work once again.
Work engagement: If your work seems to be dragging on and you are spending hours completing a task that should have taken you minutes, this is a sign that you need a break. Distraction levels could be higher or lower at home depending on who you are living with and what is around you. However, when you feel fresh and focused it is easier to engage with the task at hand and block out those outside distractions. When you begin to get distracted by everything around you, consider taking even just a 5 minute break to walk around the room, grab a drink or stretch. This can help refocus your mind on the tasks you need to complete. As you get more in tune with your rest schedule, you can stay engaged with your work during the hours you have set aside.
These are just a few signs to assess whether you need to take some more time to rest from your work. Rest can take on many forms and does not always mean you should go to sleep. Other types of rest can include mental, sensory, creative rest and so many more (Dalton-Smith, 2021). If you are interested in learning more about work-life boundaries as well as some tips and tricks, you should check out our AGL Institute course on the virtual self at agl.thinkific.com!
Thanks for reading!
Dalton-Smith, S. (2021) The 7 types of rest that every person needs. Ideas.ted.com. https://ideas.ted.com/the-7-types-of-rest-that-every-person-needs/?fbclid=IwAR1ldZUnEBz8ABbnQmkEvEPdKTJb6ClG6GzBNJq7bunVyBSjsjm_n35eO44
Nurmi, N., Hinds, P. J. (Aug 2016) Job complexity and learning opportunities: A silver lining in the design of global virtual work. Journal of International Business Studies. 47(6). 631-654. DOI:10.1057/jibs.2016.11