When you’re working from home, it’s all too easy to unknowingly extend your working hours; just a quick email here before dinner, or a short call before family film night. It all adds up. Now, more than ever, there is seemingly no time limit to the working week.
Simply put, there are no after-hours when you’re working away from the office. For some, it feels as though you’re always supposed to be available to take the call, check your email and reply. There are no official or unofficial restrictions to emails or phone calls after work hours. And all the research on the topic seems to reveal that it’s futile to expect work time to stay stable when working from home.
The plight of those working from home is backed by data. According to the recent findings from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), 35.9% of the U.K. population did some work at home in 2020. While they did save time on unnecessary commutes, their workload seems to have substantially increased.
The findings show that each week, the average employee worked an additional six hours of unpaid overtime. This has led to calls about improving the conditions of those working from home, with a focus on the employees’ ‘right to disconnect’. There’s widespread awareness now that work-life balance needs to be addressed at a collective level.
The situation is significantly more challenging for local business owners. While extended working hours are part of the life of every entrepreneur, independent business owner, contractor or freelancer, the problem has become more acute in recent months. Unfortunately, there isn’t necessarily any greater awareness about the issue.
That’s because people believe that if you’re a business owner trying to grow your business, you’re supposed to work hard and do so nonstop. After all, you’re building something and that takes a lot of effort, or so people think.
Secondly, there are no standards to compare a business owner’s hours to. If you’re an employee, you can measure your working hours against the average hours in your company or sector. But not so for local business owners.
Thirdly, depending on the business, you may not have an office and a schedule that limits your working hours. If you’re a wedding planner, electrician or real estate agent, for example, people may believe that you’re always available due to the nature of your work.
The net result of all these is that you can’t switch off at the end of the day. Your to-do list doesn’t end and extends well into evenings and weekends. So how do you solve the problem?
Well, by defining your business hours while still being available. Yes, there’s a way to do that and that’s through an after-hours phone answering service including a second line app.
While there are conventional options like an answering service to direct phone calls after work hours, a second phone line app is a more reasonably priced, tech-savvy solution. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, take a look at our beginner’s guide to a second phone line for work. This web-based phone service can offer you a business service with several add-on features.
Define work hours: You don’t need to have awkward conversations and remind people that you’re busy with your family or that you’ll call them back later. A second line app can do that for you through voicemail and auto-responses.
Respond to communication: Just because you’re not taking the call or reading the message doesn’t mean that your client or customer can’t get their problem solved. The app can forward their call to a relevant team member or send an auto-reply text.
Schedule off hours: If you’re with your family, the last thing you want is a work-related call or message. You can’t ignore it and when you do take it, you can’t go back to enjoying your personal time. With an after-hours phone service like a second line app, your family time will be undisturbed.
Prioritise engagement: While you’re enjoying your weekend, you could still take time out to check if there’s something important that needs your attention. Those mini-blocks of engagement will show you texts, calls and any auto-responses, all batched together. So, you won’t be disturbed but you can still be in the loop and be productive.
Work-life balance isn’t something you should hope to achieve after your business takes off or your venture becomes successful. It’s something you should strive to maintain while you build your business. Reducing phone calls after work hours and an after-hours phone answering service through a second line app is one of the most functional ways to achieve that.
A second phone line for work is one of the most effective ways of making the most of the resources available to you.
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