The pandemic has brought with it a number of challenges, in particular the lines between work and personal life have become blurred. It’s not been easy to switch off from work while at home, especially for those of us who have been relegated to our bedrooms or kitchen tables, and staying in the same physical space for long periods of time.
In fact, Allianz’s Finding Balance in the Modern Workplace report has revealed that 45% of Aussie employees note one of the challenges experienced since the pandemic is the line between work and personal life has blurred.
For a great way to help draw a stronger boundary between our work and personal life, it’s recommended to introduce a transition period between both parts of our lives. Coined The Third SpaceTM, a concept and book developed by Dr Adam Fraser, it is the transitional space between work and home both mentally and physically.
An optimal Third Space allows you to reflect on the day, your achievements, and close that chapter in your mind. It should also be a period of rest so you can decompress from the stressors of work, and allow you to reset your mind so you can approach the rest of your day with a clear head.
Not sure where to start? Here are five ways that can help you create your Third Space and switch off from work:
Create a physical separation between work and life
According to Allianz’s research, 35% of employees say it’s hard to turn off work-related technology. One way to help combat this is to create a separate working space in the home that doesn’t encroach on your personal space to provide a physical and visual separation between your work and home life.
If you don’t have physical space to play with, pack down your work: shutdown your computer, close and stack your notepads, and move your empty coffee mugs back into the kitchen.
Get out of your pyjamas
Working from home we can all get too comfortable staying in our pyjamas or active wear, so try to get into the habit of getting dressed for work. This doesn’t mean we have to put on the power suit but an outfit that signifies work can put us in a more work focused and productive mindset, then at the end of the day we can get back in our comfortable clothes, marking a switch in mindset.
Use your ‘transit time’
Traditionally the Third Space was the commute between the workplace and home. If you are working from home, you can use that period of ‘transit time’ to decompress from work in a way that suits you. This can be as simple as a 5-minute walk around the block to signify the end of your work day. Many people talk about the values of a fake commute where they drive to a local coffee shop in the morning and then home again to start work. While at the end of the day they drive to a park or the beach to do some activity to decompress from the day and then drive home to signal that they are now in home mode.
Step away from the screen
Back-to-back virtual meetings where you are staring at a screen all day can be incredibly draining. Insert some mini Third Spaces in your day where you are consciously taking time to rest your brain so that you are ready for the upcoming interaction. This can be done by getting up and moving your body, having structured meal breaks, and taking a moment to go outside and absorb some natural light instead of the fluorescence of laptops.
Make time for your hobbies
Amongst the increased pressure felt since the pandemic, 34% of employees surveyed say it’s hard to make time for themselves. Hobbies or personal interests bring us joy, and it’s a bonus if they have a calming effect like music, art or time in nature. If you can, schedule in time straight after work for these activities as they will allow you to lower your stress levels and help you to wind down and be in a more productive space for work the next day.
To help ensure that you’re working towards achieving a more sustainable work-life balance and creating your Third Space, it’s important to communicate this with your employer. For example, sharing the measures that you’re putting in place, such as regular breaks during the day or turning off work related-communication platforms after work. These conversations will help to open up the floor to more discussions with your employer or direct manager and create more open dialogue on what mental health, balance and wellbeing looks like in your workplace or worksite.
To learn how you can find or facilitate balance in the workplace and open up the dialogue between employees and employers, visit the Allianz Workplace Mental Health Hub to help navigate the modern workplace with confidence.