As we begin to approach the tail-end of the year, office workers are getting ready to close up shop and prepare for the holiday season. Although this might be a standard protocol for some organizations, other employees may find themselves having to work during the holiday period, either having some hybrid working schedule or completely moving their activities to the virtual workplace and working remotely.
While having to commute to the office every other day gives employees a chance to break their traditional everyday routine, those who are confined to their homes for the festive period may encounter some obstacles that can impact their productivity while still on the clock.
This time of the year can often be a time of mixed emotions. Feelings of stress, anxiety, and isolation become elevated for some individuals, and for those who are still required to work during the festive period, having to juggle work and personal responsibilities can quickly become a challenging commitment.
Planning a holiday schedule with a digital calendar can help employees working remotely to make the best of their time at home, complete job-related responsibilities, and still have enough time to rest before the new year rolls around.
Dos And Don’ts Of Remote Working During The Holiday Season
Although remote work affords the ability to be more flexible and have increased autonomy, without proper planning, one will quickly find yourself being overscheduled and without enough time to resolve last-minute tasks.
For those of us who are working from home this holiday season, having a schedule will ensure that we can minimize distractions, and plan for any changes in our daily routine that may occur while visiting family or having guests over at our house.
The dos of remote working during the holiday
Have a customized schedule
Having extra distractions around the house requires you to plan for certain days of the week, and properly utilize your weekend schedule. Having a customized schedule, or calendar will allow you to plan for those days that you might need to spend an extra few hours at work, while still having to fulfill other personal responsibilities.
A customized schedule ensures that you can plan for important upcoming dates, such as the completion of projects, or when you can expect to have friends and family visiting. Additionally, a customized schedule allows you to move deadlines, change meeting times, or move things around to suit your needs.
A customized schedule also means that the rest of your household will be informed of your working schedule, and what your daily routine might look like. This helps to avoid any unforeseen distractions or having to attend to household responsibilities while still being on the clock.
Establish a suitable working space
While some of us are veteran remote working employees, either having done so during the pandemic or now following a hybrid working schedule, newcomers will need to be sure that they have a dedicated working space that can act as their office during the day.
Having a dedicated working space allows you to shut out any potential distractions, and establish an environment that can help you feel more productive. Whether you’re working from your apartment or even your family’s house, make sure that you have a comfortable space where you can feel comfortable having to complete tasks and take work-related calls.
Plan for better work-life balance
Getting your work-life balance under control during the year may already feel like a daunting task. Now that you find yourself having to work from home, where you will need to balance additional demands, having a work-life balance can help create more structure within your day-to-day routine.
A study published before the pandemic found that around 66 percent of employees reported having additional or elevated stress at work during the holiday period. What’s more, around 70 percent of those workers feeling more stressed reported that additional demands at home, such as family duties and responsibilities were the biggest cause.
Although you’re not the only one experiencing higher levels of stress and anxiety with family visiting, or having to travel more frequently, finding the balance between work and personal responsibilities can alleviate some of the day-to-day stress you may experience.
Create a routine for yourself
Now that you will no longer be required to commute to the office, changing your morning routine can help benefit your start to the day. Filling that extra hour or two before having to clock in for work allows you the chance to get more done in the morning.
Additionally, having a morning routine would mean that you can have a better work-life balance, ensuring you spend your time on things that contribute to your preparation for the day ahead and everything that still needs to be done.
Whether you use this time to exercise, visit the gym, or even spend time with family, make sure that these few hours before work are well utilized and provide you with the chance to prepare yourself for the working day ahead.
Optimize your work responsibilities
Although your work schedule may already be planned, make sure that all work-related responsibilities are communicated with other team members, and that everyone is kept up to date about specific changes that may take place over the next several weeks.
Working in a team would mean that every person may already have an assigned role. In this case, be sure that you are fulfilling your duties, and that your fellow team members are doing their part as well.
Instead of taking on more work, or additional projects, while already being at capacity, communicate your needs with your team or managers to establish professional boundaries. While being more productive provides you the chance to get more done during the day, delivering mediocre quality work can affect your team’s performance.
Relax in your downtime
On the days when you are not required to work, or fulfill other household demands, take some time to relax and get some rest. While these days may be few and far in between, getting enough rest ensures that you feel more relaxed, and reflect on your year.
Although you might feel tempted to use your downtime to spend more time with friends and family, or even traveling, prioritizing your well-being is more important at this point.
Make a habit of doing something that feels more relaxing or fulfilling. Spend some time outside of the house, by visiting a park, or taking yourself out for lunch. There’s nothing wrong with scheduling some personal downtime for yourself during the holidays, and allowing yourself the freedom to shut off from work and other responsibilities.
Make healthier choices
This time of the year, we’re often confronted with various opportunities to overindulge, and while there is nothing wrong with enjoying yourself now and again, it’s just as important to establish some healthy habits.
Use your time working from home to make better choices, such as exercising in the morning, or after work. Take a walk during your lunch break, or break the cycle, and use your lunch break to snack on healthier food options.
Additionally, spend some time away from your computer or cellphone. Use this time to get some fresh air, by taking more frequent walks, or using your mornings to spend more time outdoors, despite the colder weather.
Plan your holiday shopping
Instead of having to rush several days before the time, or opting to shop during work hours, plan a day for your holiday shopping. Choose a day in your schedule that suits you, and designate enough time to get all your holiday shopping done.
If you’re short on time, don’t see yourself trekking to the stores, and want to avoid crowded stores and shops, you can always opt to do your holiday shopping online, and request that your packages be delivered to your house.
Make the most of your time, even when you feel that doing holiday shopping can often feel like a burden. By planning in advance, you will be assured that you will have enough time to get everything you need while having to balance work and personal responsibilities.
The don’ts of remote working during the holiday
Just as remote working during the holiday season can feel overwhelming, try to avoid isolating yourself too much from others. Research suggests that those individuals who experience mental issues are often twice as likely to experience loneliness.
Although having a work environment that allows you the opportunity to be productive, isolating yourself can lead to feelings of loneliness. Plan for days to visit friends, or even meet up with a colleague. You can schedule days where you may work outside of your house, and take your work to a co-working space or even sit in a nearby coffee shop.
While balancing work and personal responsibilities during the holidays might feel like more work, take time to incorporate activities with other people that can help you feel recharged. Be more proactive with spending time outdoors, and getting enough exercise, or simply enjoying those odd few minutes with friends and family.
Don’t ignore holiday activities
Being creeped up indoors in front of your computer or cellphone the whole time can quickly become increasingly draining, leading to feelings of isolation, and often depression. Although we all celebrate the festive season differently, making an effort to participate in frequent holiday activities can help you feel less isolated.
Things such as visiting a community Christmas market, or the nearby fair can already help you break the cycle of being indoors the whole time. Spending important days with friends or family, sharing a meal, or even preparing to attend a performance are all things that make the holidays feel more festive.
For someone who might be celebrating for religious purposes, try and include yourself in various festivities that highlight the importance of the holiday season. You may even try something simple, such as decorating your home, putting up a tree, or celebrating with friends if you’re not able to spend it with your family.
Working from home allows you to travel more frequently, and move around more freely. However, during the holiday season, traveling can often feel more burdensome, due to increased traveler demand.
While you may have planned to travel to a different part of the country for the holidays, try and avoid additional traveling to minimize your time on the road or in the air. Although you have more autonomy to do these things, you don’t have to force yourself to travel somewhere if you’re not feeling comfortable enough to do so.
Although changing your work environment is a good idea, excessive traveling can lead to you feeling out of touch with your direct working environment, such as a home office, or having to constantly change your morning routine. If you’re planning to travel, try and do so on days that you aren’t required to be online and give yourself enough time to recuperate before you have to clock in again.
Have too many holiday obligations
As you may already have experienced in the past, having too much on your plate can lead to you feeling exhausted, leading to higher levels of burnout and fatigue. Having too many obligations, outside of your work, can lead you to feel tired, distracting you from your professional responsibilities.
Having enough time to meet all your deadlines, and still enjoy your holiday season is important, however, you will need to prioritize specific obligations above others as necessary.
Try and create a schedule for yourself, that gives you a bird’s eye view of your holiday schedule. This way you can slot in important dates, but still manage to make adjustments as the holiday season unfolds. If you notice that you are over-scheduling yourself, whether this may be for work or personal reasons, try and make adjustments to help you better cope with all your responsibilities and avoid tiring yourself out.
Don’t use work as an excuse
Having to work during the holidays might not be your first choice, and while it does mean that you might have less time to spend with your family, or participate in holiday activities, work shouldn’t be an excuse to avoid important days.
Although working from home requires you to be on-call, or present in the event someone is trying to reach you, using work to excuse yourself from important things can quickly become a burdensome part of your festive holiday.
While there are specific duties you are responsible for, work shouldn’t take up all of your time. Neither should you let work or any work-related responsibility come between you and your relationship with your partner, family, or friends.
Allow work and family to intermingle
Something that many people, especially working parents often struggle with, is having to control the boundaries between work and personal life. While there are times when you might feel that you are missing out on certain experiences, don’t let work stand between you and having a relaxing holiday.
On this note, remember that when you are on the clock, you need to stick to your routine, and communicate this with your family. Try and set clear boundaries with your family regarding your working hours, and when you are free to spend time with them.
Yes, your family might not be happy at the sight of you having to spend most of your days behind your computer, however, there are days when you will be free to enjoy some holiday activities with them. Remind yourself, and others, what is important to you, and how you will prioritize your time during the holiday season.
Avoid communicating boundaries with colleagues
Although it’s important to have clear boundaries in your personal life, the same can be said about your relationship with your colleagues and team members. While this time of the year does see some companies minimizing workloads or concluding certain projects until after the holidays, make sure that you have clear boundaries with team members regarding your workload.
By knowing what is expected from you, you can plan your schedule in such a way that you have enough lead time to complete projects before their deadlines and still have enough time on your hands to make any changes, if necessary.
However, if you feel that your colleagues or even a team manager is being unreasonable, and loading you with additional projects, communicate how this may interfere with your holiday plans or if there’s a possibility to establish alternative solutions for the work to be divided among team members.
Not having boundaries at work would encourage others to take advantage of you, and only add more responsibilities to your plate. Make an effort to set team expectations, and communicate these expectations with your colleagues.
Leave too much work for the new year
You might’ve reached a point where you feel that you can leave certain duties until next year when you’re back in the office. Extending deadlines until the new year is a common practice during this time of the year, however, putting too many things off until next year could mean that once you’re back in the office you will have to put out multiple fires at once.
Try and get the most important tasks done first, before moving on to something new. Make an effort to respond to important emails, and clear out your inbox before you sign off for the last day of the year.
The best is to get as much done as you think is possible, without overloading yourself. While it’s normal for people to feel tired around the end of the year, by motivating yourself, and other team members, you can encourage one another to finish a few last-minute tasks before signing out, and revisiting work next year.
Here’s some more advice for better work-life balance while working remotely this holiday season:
Create a routine, and stick to it
Having a daily routine can help you prepare for the day, knowing what to expect, and still having enough time on hand to relax or indulge in holiday festivities.
Give yourself a break
There’s nothing wrong with taking a break when you feel that you have reached a point of burnout. As you’re now juggling multiple things at once, you might feel yourself being more tired than usual. Take a break when you need it.
Spend time alone
Bouncing from work right into your family obligations gives you little time to do things by yourself. Take some time to spend time alone, either during the work day or on weekends.
Prioritize your health
Make your health and well-being a priority. This isn’t only important for physical wellness, but also your mental health. Ensure that your mental health stays in check, and if you need a break from everyone, communicate this with others, and share your feelings.
Control your expectations
Having high expectations can often lead to feeling disappointed, or feeling that you are missing out on key moments. Control your expectations regarding the holiday season now that you are working from home. While it might be fun to spend more time at home with your family, you might feel that additional household responsibilities are only adding more distractions to your day-to-day life.
Travel during off-peak times
While the holidays might be a time to travel to see family or visit friends, try and arrange alternative dates that you can travel instead of during the holidays. As a household, you will need to decide on days that suit everyone’s schedule, even if this means having to travel once the holiday season has concluded.
Do something else than work
If you feel that you are constantly being restricted by work, make a habit of doing something different. Get outside, and move your body more frequently. Take a walk around the block, or maybe meet a friend for coffee. Do something different now and again to help you feel motivated and inspired.
Working during the holiday might not be the most convenient, and having to work remotely from home, while having to spend time with your friends and family might feel that you are adding more responsibilities than what your schedule allows.
Make use of a digital calendar, and plan your holiday schedule. Share your schedule with your family, and keep colleagues informed about how you will be managing your work-life balance. Keep track of your well-being, and take breaks when you need them.
Plan the important days, and create a routine for yourself, even as you now have to share the house with other people. Make the most of your holiday, and try to spend time outdoors and be active. Without proper planning and scheduling, you’ll feel that the holidays can feel even more stressful. Make yourself a priority, and as things unfold, create an optimized schedule that works for your needs.
Featured Image Credit: Pixaby; Pexels