You Can Have Both: 10 Tips for Balancing Career and Family as a Remote Worker

Many remote workers have stressed about balancing career and family, and this guide will help you find a calm, common ground.

There are some fortunate professionals who get the opportunity to choose whether to work remotely or at the office, but for the majority, it’s the company’s call based on infrastructure, geography, and budgetary considerations.

Interestingly, Global Workplace Analytics estimates that upward of 80% of American employees would like to telecommute “at least part of the time,” and that about half of the workforce “holds a job that is compatible [with] at least part-time telework.” Concludes GWA: “50 million workers both could and want to telework.” Currently, the firm pegs the actual total at just over 3 million who consider “home their primary place of work.”

What do these numbers tell us? These numbers – and many others – tell us that the population of Remote Nation© is on the rise. I love to see this, but I also realize it brings concerns for some. Many of our new citizens will be mothers and fathers with young children, for instance, which depending on circumstances could cancel out one of the great advantages of working remotely: a lack of distraction. Others feel like their quality of life – or even privacy – might be compromised. Or maybe your partner telecommutes, as well, complicating matters.

 The Remote Worker’s Guide to Balancing Career and Family

So, how do you go about balancing career and family? Try these 10 tips.

1. Own it.

Plain and simple: Don’t even consider it balancing career and family; let’s reframe it as a push for integrating work and home life in a healthy and productive way, because that’s what it is. Once you accept it, you can move forward with a strategy for success.

2. Set boundaries.

Let’s be clear: These are boundaries you need for work and for family. As always, be proactive, negotiate them upfront, and be prepared to renegotiate them as life’s realities pop up here and there.

3. Find your special place.

Designate a space and then be selfish with it, particularly during work hours. Once you’re there, you’re “in your office.” Restricting access is paramount to productivity, but it also has the mutual benefit of allowing others in your household to have their own space throughout the day. Bonus points if you can carve out a spot that has a different “feel” or “identity” than the rest of your home. And remember: light, plants, and a good chair.

4. Prepare your home “studio.”

Make sure your workspace can double as a setting for video conference calls, both in appearance and capability. Keep it consistent. These moments are crucial for a successful career as a remote worker, because they represent the opportunity to connect with your colleagues. They need to know you’ve got your act together, and you need to know that your home isn’t on display.

5. Be flexible.

Accept that work might get done in a nonlinear fashion – from the outset, if possible, pick the best parts of the day that fit you and your family’s life demands, but also be ready to adjust to the workflow of your company. You want to maintain your established schedule, of course, but also leave room for some improvisation when necessary. It’s a rhythm that you’ll continually have to tinker with.

6. Don’t feel guilty about taking a break.

Throw in a load of laundry, walk around the block, do a meditation, or pick your kids up at school. In general, keep these breaks on a consistent rotation, just as you would if working on campus.

7. Don’t skimp on your technology.

This is a big one. It’s important that you’re on level ground with your onsite colleagues, and you have everything in place do your job, no matter where you’re working from. Gain access to all necessary project management tools, and don’t be afraid to make reasonable requests. Do not use your own devices for work-related tasks, as it puts you in a difficult position if something fails and sets a bad precedent.

8. Be prepared for good days and bad days.

Don’t internalize or personalize setbacks. Don’t make it an earth-shattering crisis or a symbol of the disadvantages of remote working. Don’t blame your family or your pet; don’t call yourself a bad parent or partner. Sometimes a bad day is just a bad day, just like when you work in a brick-and-mortar office.

9. Create your own stress relievers.

Make sure to develop strategies for coping with stress, just as you would on site: workouts, playlists, a quick chore or two, dog walks, running jokes with co-workers, the occasional guilty pleasure snack – whatever works for you! Communicate with your family, partner, or roommates about your needs and encourage them to communicate with you about theirs!

10. Keep your sense of humor.

Don’t get too high or too low while working remotely, and make sure to stay in touch with co-workers and friends throughout the day. Things can get awfully quiet when you’re officing from home … or, they can get crazy loud if you’ve got screaming kids and barking dogs around. Stay focused, but also keep in mind that work isn’t everything, no matter what you do for a living.

Balancing Career and Family as a Remote Worker: The Bottom Line

The movement toward a Remote Nation© isn’t slowing down, and as our ranks grow, each new telecommuter has his or her own concerns. For many, this means balancing career and family. It also means integrating work with home life while maintaining some space for your quality of life. No situation is perfect, but these 10 tips will help you get closer to a solution – and success on both fronts!

I’m sure you have many great tips on balancing a career and family. What has worked in your experience? Can you give us any suggestions for balancing career and family as a remote worker?

Photo by Picsea