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Tips for Unplugging from Work

 You’re on the train to the office and you’re answering emails. It’s 8 p.m., your children have gone to bed, and you’re working on a client presentation. It’s 5 in the morning, and you’re on a video conference call with colleagues halfway across the globe.

This is the new reality of the workplace – one in which technology has replaced the traditional eight-hour workday with one in which workers are expected to – or feel the need to – always be connected. According to a new CareerBuilder.ca survey, 7 in 10 employers (68 per cent) and 6 in 10 workers (59 per cent) think the idea of “working 9 to 5” is a thing of the past.

In fact, the majority of workers (61 per cent) say they check or respond to emails during non-office hours, and half of workers (49 per cent) say they keep working even outside of office hours. Perhaps that’s because their employers demand it; 47 per cent of employers say employees are expected to stay connected to work after office hours.

Finding work-life balance

With workers constantly working outside of traditional office hours, it can be hard to find a balance between work and personal life. Here are three tips to disconnect from work in today’s connected world:

  1. Set limits: If you’re constantly checking email after hours, you’ll never truly be able to enjoy your down time. To avoid burn out, pick an hour each evening and designate that as your time to read and respond to emails or finish any small tasks you weren’t able to complete during the day. Outside of that designated time, turn your work email off, so you won’t be tempted by the “ding” your phone makes every time a new email arrives.
  1. Get involved in after-work activities: If you don’t have much going on after work, it can be easy to get in the habit of bringing work home with you. To break the monotony, get involved in a sports league, join your local gym or sign up for those photography classes you always wanted to take. By filling your time with other nonwork-related activities, you’ll better be able to separate yourself from work, and have some fun while you’re at it.
  1. Consider the upside of always being connected: While having more technology at your fingertips means you can do work wherever you are – that’s not always a bad thing. In fact, it can potentially give you more freedom to make your own schedule.

“Thanks to technology that allows workers more flexibility in when and where they work, workers no longer feel the need to stick to a traditional ‘9 to 5’ schedule,” says Mark Bania, managing director of CareerBuilder.ca. “Giving employees more control over when and how they work can improve satisfaction rates, leading to enhanced productivity and higher retention.”

While in the modern world, it may never truly be possible to disconnect from the office after hours, you can find ways to balance your time and take advantage of the benefits today’s technology brings.

Debra Auerbach researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for CareerBuilder.

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