It’s important to relax while working from home
As homeworkers we can find plenty of information on how to use social networks to help battle isolation. And there are guides about how to manage our time to avoid the pitfalls of procrastination while working from home.
But less frequently featured in journals about the work/life balance is the importance of play. Freelance writer Sara Barrett has surveyed home working men to find out how they switch off:
Adult life concentrates on targets, planning, performing and achieving, but maybe we need also to consider that play is important too. It offers space for us to switch off, to use a different part of our brains, to relax so we return refreshed. Working from home means we have a unique opportunity to build the benefits of play into our day. So what do we actually do in the breaks when we are not working?
It fits that play echoes work. Artisans might experiment with colour combinations, wordsmiths might relax with a cross-word or a magazine. It also seems likely that women will prefer different ways to play than men.
Increasingly, as screen-based activities dominate much of our working lives, so screens now influence play-time too, a factor which has been enhanced by the growing smartphone and tablet revolution.
Given these trends, I wondered how patterns of work and play might manifest in a group of homeworkers with whom I am familiar. For part of my time I work from home as an internet marketer and freelance writer. A proportion of my output supports the efforts of a games developer who creates smartphone apps.
I’ve observed at first hand how his contacts structure their working from home day and notice that play seems important. To gather more concrete data I designed a survey: ‘Men Working From Home: What do you get up to in your down-time?’
As you might expect, 27% of respondents are working from home in software and systems development. 18% are in website creation and management, and a good selection worked in the new online industries. In a working day, typically 77% took 2-3 breaks of an average 10-15 minutes.
The most popular activities during breaks, ranked in order, were:
- Eat or drink something
- Pursue some social networking
- Stay at my computer and trawl the Internet for fun/diverting stuff
- Many respondents listened to music
- A quarter chose to indulge in some smartphone activity
However, when asked which activity they prefer when taking a break, screen-based or non screen-based, 80% of respondents stated a preference for non screen-based activity. Whilst those questioned declared that they do not *prefer* screen-based activity, my results indicate that pursuing screen-based play is, in reality, what the respondents actually get up to in their down-time.
Screens are everywhere now, and smartphones place a powerful and versatile tool right in the palms of our hands. Regardless of whether we are in denial about the role of these devices as highly engaging toys, their ever-handy nature is influencing behaviour and blurring the boundaries between work and play.
Sara Barrett works from home as a freelance writer and internet marketer, creating business copy for small to medium sized enterprises. She supports new product development for her partner’s software, systems, and smartphone app concern.