In a previous blogpost, our Global HR Director Jasmine Phua shared some observations on the challenges of remote working and some tips on how we might demarcate work and personal within our physical and mental spaces. In this follow up, we hear from some of our team members on how they create their own work-life balance / work-life integration. Here are some highlights from our conversations.
What does your typical workday look like?
John: At the start of the lockdown, I assumed that once I had a good office set up at home, it would be easy to transition the same hours from office to home. How wrong I was. Ross from our EMEA team recalled an interesting story about Routine being the key to survival for Prisoners of War. 3 iterations of a routine schedule and I think I am there, but there is a need to rejig the schedule which allows us all to get our work, our share of child-minding and cooking done.
Todd: My work hours are split between Singapore and US timezones, so my work day starts at 9pm Singapore time after we manage to put my 2-year-old daughter to sleep. Usually I schedule most of the meetings between 9pm and 12am.
After 12am is my quiet time where I do my own reading, coding, writing (rarely) and deep Slack discussion with some individual members/projects. It’s usually very intense and also distracting to discuss 4-5 different threads concurrently, so my trick is to stay in 1 thread for at least 5 minutes before switching. Also, I always make sure I disable all notifications, and practice a habit of 30 minutes of Slack/Email followed by 30 minutes of no-distraction working.
My work day temporarily ends at around 3am and resumes at 9am. This is usually the time when I continue with some on-going project discussion, until 11am. After this, my “official” work day ends and the rest of the day I can spend on looking after my daughter, doing some paper reading or other personal hobbies.
Xiaoying: I usually start my work as early as possible so that I have enough time to write down my to-do list for the day and make sure that urgent and important things are done first, thus improving my productivity.
What do you do to unwind from a busy day at work?
John: Gardening. I’ve been growing pumpkins, tomatoes, strawberries, radishes, onions and watermelon (we refashioned old plastic bottles into a greenhouse for seedlings). My team members get regular updates about my plant progress and they humour me, although within the EMEA team I think we are all green fingered. Ghandi recommends that we should all do an hour in the garden a day so I’m getting mine in.
Todd: During the day time, it’s easy since my work ends around lunch time and my teammates also have to sleep. However, at midnight, it’s always a challenge. During that time, the team is most active, and issues always pop up and require some attention and discussion. My trick is to stop looking at Slack and checking email after 2am, if I can. It does require some flexibility on my part.
Renjie: I usually go jogging around 3pm to 3:30pm if there are no meetings at that time. Sometimes I will play with my baby or play guitar for a while if my baby is not sleeping.
Xiaoying: Spend some quiet time with a good book or my favourite music. Sometimes I also watch some variety shows and immerse myself in it.
Jiangchun: I enjoy working out and watching good movies to unwind.
How do you balance your personal / family life and work life?
John: This is sometimes tough for me. I like to use up most of my available day being productive (in whatever that may be – gardening etc). But Routine is Key!
Todd: One useful tip I recommend is to try to build up a strong hobby for yourself.
Renjie: For me, everyday I will have fixed time slots dedicated to my family. For example, I usually walk around the park with my baby in the morning and go jogging in the afternoon.
Xiaoying: It is not easy to balance life and work, actually I often struggle to prioritize the time and energy I commit to my work and personal life. I try to balance my life and work by doing the following:
1. When I’m at work, I give it my all and don’t bring the trifles of my life to work. When out of work, I try to avoid thinking about work and just enjoy life.
2. Have open and honest communication with manager and teammates.
3. Forgive myself for not being perfect in daily work and life.
Jiangchun: I will always watch some films for at least one hour everyday so that I can get my mind off work.
For those with family, do you have any tips for your fellow colleagues in managing your time?
John: Set a routine, iterate it, retest and reiterate to a point where it works (as best it can be) for all.
Todd: First of all, you need to make it clear what is your work time, and what time you are available for your family. Also, keep a consistent schedule, so it is easier to arrange family activities. Another tip is to make sure you take up a certain amount of house chores. It may sound strange, but doing house chores like hanging clothes or cooking is the perfect opportunity to interact with your family!
Xiaoying: Limit nonessential activities, such as browsing social media, surfing the Internet, watching soap operas. Instead, dedicate time for family activities like hiking, swimming to reduce stress and anxiety.
What does Work-Life Balance mean to you?
John: To me, it’s about being a part of a family, and making the most of the good times when it comes ( in our case the sun, garden and bbq) as we’ve had enough dark times to last. So make the most out of your time. Learn new skills and try something new everyday.
Todd: To me, it is very simple. Work is part of my life, and in fact it is one of my hobbies, so work-life balance is just about how to balance between your different hobbies. Make sure you enjoy your work, since that is the single activity where you spend the most time of your life on.
Renjie: I feel that having a good work-life balance does not equate to shutting down my laptop strictly at 6:30pm or not responding to calls after official working hours. Work-life balance is a spirit that everyone in ViSenze has, where we put family first. I know for a fact that when I have to sacrifice my work due to my family, all my colleagues will support me. And I will also support my colleagues when they face similar situations as well.
Xiaoying: For me, work-life balance does not mean to schedule an equal number of hours for work and personal activities. To achieve work-life balance, learning to prioritize time, energy and responsibilities is the key – and I am still learning too.
Jiangchun: To me, having a balance between work and life means that life doesn’t revolve around work only. We are human beings that exist beyond just being part of the workforce.
What is one thing that you want to commit to to ensure Work-Life Balance for yourself?
John: Commit to iterate! Iterating a routine that works and provides variety.
Todd: I always want to make sure I have at least 7 hours of sleep a day. This is the single most difficult task to achieve thus far. Also, every day, I want to devote at least 2 hours of uninterrupted time to family.
Renjie: I will leave my laptop for lunch at 12pm!
Xiaoying: To have better time management.
Jiangchun: I have committed to watch at least 100 movies per year.