The COVID-19 pandemic compelled many businesses to adopt the work-from-home model to keep the lights on. Since then, remote work has swiftly evolved from a seemingly temporary, pandemic-induced solution into a defining aspect of the modern work landscape.
Yet, in the past week, an intriguing conversation has ensued among Nigerians on X. This dialogue is centred around the effects of remote work on the equilibrium between one’s personal and professional life, aka work-life balance. For some, this newfound flexibility availed by remote work is worth celebrating, while others believe that remote work has more negative than positive consequences on both productivity and social life.
In true PiggyVest fashion, we will highlight some of these nuanced viewpoints and provide tips for achieving a healthy work-life balance.
What are Nigerians are saying about remote work?
A common concern is that remote work has contributed to a dearth of physical interaction and connection among people. “I have not seen an actual human being today. I can’t firmly say I have spoken to one today, either,” a post by Drew, a designer, read. “I’ve had meetings today, but those people could easily be AI. This is the direct opposite of how humans were created to live.”
Reduced overhead costs, improved employee retention and increased productivity are some of the benefits remote work provides organisations. Despite these upsides, some organisations have complained that working from home hinders their ability to build a strong company culture due to an inability to carry out team bonding activities or in-person meetings. Employees may begin to feel siloed, stunting their ability to build a more robust professional network. Apart from the challenges of building professional relationships, the lack of social interaction could also negatively impact employees’ mental health.
Weighing in with a contradictory opinion, the founder of ScaleMyHustle, Modupe “Mochievous” Odele, said, “Work cannot be a substitute to your social life. It is important to build a life outside work. What are your interests? Explore them. Saying you have zero human interaction because you are working remotely means your social life needs work.”
The remote work model aims to reduce work stress, improve productivity, and permit workers more flexibility to live their lives. You can work from anywhere in the world, and employees no longer have to endure long commutes, leading to increased job satisfaction. Remote work also offers an advantage to disabled people, who face mobility challenges due to the widespread lack of accessibility in Nigeria.
It does remain that humans are social beings; we do not thrive in extreme isolation. While it’s great if you’ve been lucky enough to make strong connections with your co-workers, a different school of thought will argue that your co-workers are not your friends. So which is it? Should company culture come before employee happiness and retention? Do the harmful effects of remote work truly outweigh the positives?
Organisations will always look out for their best interest, and so will employees. At the centre of this dialogue are those who posit that hybrid work is the future, as it will mitigate the negatives of both sides.
How can remote workers achieve work-life balance?
While some think remote work could distort your work-life equilibrium, others have called it the best thing that has happened to them. Conversations around the rapid changes in the workplace, like the upcoming modern workplace conference by Techpoint, will continue well into the foreseeable future.
Meanwhile, for those who struggle to strike a work-life balance, these are some steps you can take to remedy that:
1. Get a workstation
Your workstation could be a corner in your home that serves as your office or a group workstation where you can meet and interact with other professionals. This method can simulate the feeling of resuming at the office and allows you to shut down once your working hours are over.
2. Set goals
Writing out your daily goals or making to-do lists will help you ascertain your daily tasks. From here, you can prioritise your tasks and strike them off as the day progresses. Outlining your goals also enables you to focus and manage your time better.
3. Create a routine
One reason for work-life imbalance is the lack of a routine. Humans —especially adults — are creatures of habit. The lack of a routine can send you into a confused spiral. To fix this, mimic the pattern of a person going into the office: wake early, take a shower, wear a nice outfit, clock in at the start of the day, take your lunch break, and most importantly, clock out at closing time.
4. Make plans for after work
Have personal commitments outside of your work tasks. Shutting down your laptop and proceeding to sit idly around can stir feelings of desolation in you. Plan to meet up with friends afterwards. If that’s not your cup of tea, spend quality time with your family. Watch a movie. Read a book. Take a walk. Do something that makes you come alive and brings you joy.
5. Set boundaries
In a bid to ascend the career ladder, many people neglect their personal boundaries. Some people enjoy working non-stop, blurring the line between real and professional life. Work closely with your manager to set realistic project deadlines and learn to say no to tasks that encroach on your personal space or well-being.