The Importance of Disconnecting
Most of us at BITS have now been exclusively working from home for almost 12 weeks. We’ve already dedicated blogs to our best tips when working remotely, so be sure to check them out here, here, and here.
A study from Airtasker in late March showed that almost one-third of employees who are working remotely struggle with a work-life balance and work an average of 1.4 days per month more than if they were based in an office environment. Instead of commuting (which averages over 30 minutes each way for most Americans), employees are working longer hours, not taking as long of lunches or breaks as they would in an office environment, and working after typical office-based hours.
Even during so-called normal years, American workers overall don’t take enough time off of work. In 2018 alone, 786 million days of vacation went unused, with 236 million days completely forfeited. According to the study from the US Travel Association, 55% of workers even left unused vacation days on the table (meaning that they couldn’t carry them over to the following calendar or fiscal year).
When working from home, it’s easy to get in the habit of waking up, turning on your computer, taking a few breaks for food, and then turning off your computer to go to sleep…only to wake up and repeat the cycle again. We’ve mentioned in previous blogs our suggestions to breaks throughout the day if possible to walk the dog, play for a few minutes outside with your kids, or just take a short stroll around the block. But… you need more time than that to really disconnect.
With the current Covid-19 pandemic and the unclear landscape of what may travel look like over the next few months, it may not be advised to take a cruise or overseas vacation. But, it’s still so important to take time for yourself, especially when working all or most of the time from home. At BITS, throughout the pandemic, we’ve encouraged employees to take PTO days as needed, and when they are on PTO, reminding them to take a break – and not work or check email.
A day or two off during the week – or even a long holiday weekend like we just had – allows you time to recharge, whether that’s spending the day hiking, reading a new book, binging on Netflix, or taking a long drive. It can help you connect with your loved ones by spending time together that isn’t dedicated to work or typical weekend chores.
We know it is tough to disconnect especially right now, because…what else is there to do really? But we all need it. Leave the work in another room, and tell that coworker that you’ll call them in the morning. We’re sure most of it can wait.