The Truth About Working From Home: 3 Tips for Finding Real Work-Life Balance

by Donna Burnett on January 23, 2024 in Career Advice, Remote Work


Over the last few years, we’ve witnessed a significant number of changes surrounding workplace culture. Yet, undoubtedly, one of the biggest changes has been where and how we work. Driven by the Covid-19 pandemic, and despite the many return-to-office mandates issued in 2023, the shift to remote work has continued. According to Upwork, by 2025 more than 32 million Americans (about 22% of the workforce) will be working remotely.

While studies show workers overwhelmingly favor working from home at least some of the time, remote work is not without its challenges. From increased reliance on technology to impacts on work-life balance and challenges communicating with colleagues, remote work has some very real setbacks. Let’s take a closer look at the reality of working from home to consider the pros, the cons, and how to strike the perfect balance so you can work from home more effectively.

The Pros and Cons of Remote Work

Pro: Flexibility

One of the biggest benefits of remote work is the flexibility it provides. Working remotely allows employees to organize their work hours and professional duties around personal responsibilities and lifestyle preferences. For some, like employees caring for children or family members, this flexibility is crucial to maintaining work-life balance and job satisfaction.

Others like having the option to start work earlier or take a longer lunch break to run errands, get a workout in, or go to an appointment. The flexibility to choose when you work can lead to increased job satisfaction and productivity, benefiting both employers and employees.

In addition to when work is done, working remotely offers employees flexibility in where they work as well. While many remote workers do opt to work from their homes, the ability to change locations throughout the day is another perk of remote work.

Whether you’re shifting from your desk to your couch or the coffee shop down the street, the freedom to work anywhere is a major selling point for remote workers. Working remotely can also offer more flexibility while traveling, allowing employees to see other places or visit friends and family without taking time off work. That said, flexibility does come with trade-offs.

Con: Lack of Support

A major challenge for many remote workers is the lack of support and connection they experience while working from home. If you’re working from the office and run into a technical issue or need to check in with a colleague, it’s easy to drop by their desk to get the answers or help you need.

At home, you’re on your own. This is especially true for full-time remote workers and those working for fully remote companies. While technology has improved connectivity, many remote employees report feeling burned out by all the digital communication tools they use. This increased reliance on technology can also lead to mental fatigue, loss of productivity, and decreased job satisfaction.

Beyond lack of day-to-day support, working from home can reduce social connection and have negative impacts on company culture.  According to Pew Research, 53% of remote workers find it harder to feel connected to their coworkers. Countering this lack of connection and collaboration is a major challenge for employers in both remote and hybrid work environments.

To better support employees working from home, organizations need to create and commit to a plan for how their workers communicate, collaborate, and build relationships among teams. Ultimately, a strong company culture is necessary to overcome obstacles like lack of support and decreased connection among remote workers.

Pro: Improved Work-Life Balance

Beyond flexibility, working from home offers lots of additional benefits that contribute to work-life balance. Without a commute to work, employees have more time at home in the morning and evening, allowing them to spend extra time with family, catch up with friends, or go to the gym.

Working remotely can also improve overall health and wellbeing. At home, employees have control over when and what they eat, allowing workers to make healthier choices that fit their lifestyle.

Remote work can even improve mental health by encouraging workers to take breaks when needed. Some remote employees like to get outside and go for a walk while others prefer to play with a pet or take care of small household chores like cleaning the dishes. These small breaks help workers come back to their desks refreshed and contribute to better work-life balance and overall job satisfaction.

Con: Declining Professional Development

While work-life balance is greatly improved in remote environments, it often comes at the expense of professional development. Employee development and training has always been a challenge for organizations to get right, and it gets even more difficult when employees are working from home.

In the office, companies can easily offer mentoring programs or on the job training opportunities. But with more people working from home, these opportunities become difficult to provide. Research has shown that this lack of development affects early career workers the most. Younger employees who join a company in a remote or hybrid role are more likely to struggle with onboarding and development. The result is that, while remote work improves productivity overall, this comes at the cost of early-career development and skill-building opportunities.

How to Work from Home More Effectively

Now that we’ve covered some of the pros and cons of working remotely, let’s consider three ways to improve how you work from home so that you can find real work-life balance.

1. Establish Clear Boundaries

In our always-on culture, it can be challenging to step away from work, even at the end of a long day. While technology has made our lives easier in many ways, our phones, computers, and other devices also mean we’re always connected and never far from a work email, Slack message, or phone call.

When you work from an office, it’s a bit easier to leave work at work when the clock strikes five. But when your home is your office, the line between work and life gets blurry. That’s why having clear boundaries is so important for maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

While there are lots of ways to establish boundaries at work, a good place to start is by setting a work schedule. Keeping consistent hours, such as starting and ending your day around the same time and blocking off time on your calendar for lunch, will help others know when you’re working and when you’re not.

Let colleagues know that if they reach out to you after work hours, you’ll respond the following day. In addition to setting a work schedule, it can be helpful to create a workspace at home that functions as an office. Creating an office space, whether it’s an actual desk or a place at your kitchen table, can help you separate your work life and home life and make you more productive in the process.

When your workday ends, turn off your devices, set your Slack status to away, and resist the temptation to scroll through emails at night. Boundaries like these will help you maintain a healthy work-life balance and prevent burnout.

2. Maintain Connections with Colleagues

Working from home can get lonely, and remote work often lacks the daily social interactions that occur naturally in an office setting. That said, working from home doesn’t mean you have to give up all friendship-building opportunities with your coworkers.

While you might not be able to drop by your officemate’s desk to say hello or chat with colleagues in the office kitchen, you can find other ways to maintain relationships. Maybe you plan a weekly video call to catch up with a colleague or attend a virtual teambuilding event.

Yes, staying connected while working remotely does require a bit more effort, but with effective communication and a company-wide emphasis on team building, remote work doesn’t have to limit your work relationships.

3. Adapt to Change

The world of work is always changing; the more adaptable you are, the more successful you’re likely to be. While remote work will remain common, some experts predict that the future of work is hybrid, with a mix of in office and remote work.

Whatever the future holds, one way to navigate the change is to remind yourself of what matters. What motivates you at work? What skills and experiences do you bring to the job that no one else does? Appreciating your unique contributions will help you stay motivated and focused in your role, allowing you to work effectively wherever you are.

Interested in working from home? Contact 1 can help you find the right remote work opportunity. Send us your resume today to get started!