For most people, achieving a perfect work-life balance sounds impossible, especially in a competitive environment. Technology allows us to bring work with us everywhere we go, blurring the lines between professional life and family. But technology can also be helpful in maintaining some boundaries.
Here are a few suggestions on how the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart tech can help you find more work-life balance.
Use the IoT to Disconnect
The easiest way to create more space for your home life is to disconnect from your devices for a while. Using the IoT to disconnect from technology might sound like an oxymoron, but certain automation features make it easier than you’d think.
One way to disconnect is to charge your smartphones in a neutral space at night, away from your bedroom—whether that’s the family room, kitchen, or even the hallway outside of your room. Research suggests that this practice actually improves happiness. It might sound a little jarring to be away from your phone all night, but if you keep a voice assistant like Alexa in your bedroom, you can still set alarms, find out the weather forecast for tomorrow, and complete simple tasks if needed.
Another way to use smart tech to disconnect is by automating your email response to “unavailable” after a certain time of day, making it easier to focus on home life once you’re actually home. You can also use shortcuts like IFTTT (If This Then That) to automate processes between IoT devices that aren’t compatible otherwise.
You can also schedule work-related apps to shut down or log you out after-hours to help build a better work-life balance. For example, Slack allows you to create a do not disturb schedule in its notification settings. iOS also includes screen time limits that allow you to block out an entire category of apps after a certain time or place time limits on individual apps.
Set Boundaries If You Work from Home
Working from home can make achieving a better work-life balance even more complicated. It’s important to set boundaries, and the IoT can help you.
If you’re spending time with family and a work concern pops up, use a voice assistant like Google Home to take notes for you to check on later. This way, you can avoid picking up your laptop and falling down a rabbit hole of emails and missed notifications.
You could also schedule smart lights or an entire smart outlet in your home office to shut off after a certain time to remind you to wrap things up for the day and leave the computer behind.
Let Your Smart Devices Monitor Your Home While You’re at Work
You might not have a ton of IoT devices—for example if your current washing machine works fine, you might not be able to justify the cost of a new smart washer. However, some smart devices are more affordable than others. Whatever IoT devices you’ve invested in, let them work for you while you’re away. Just make sure your internet connection is strong so all your devices can work smoothly throughout the day.
If you have a large number of smart devices, you may want to invest in a smart hub like Samsung SmartThings. These hubs use low-energy radio signals like Zigbee specifications to control the various IoT devices in your home, diverting traffic from your home network.
Here are just a few of the smart tech options that can give you peace of mind while you’re at work:
- Smart Refrigerator
Smart fridges like the Samsung Family Hub come equipped with internal cameras, allowing you to check on the contents of your fridge remotely. Use one of these IoT devices to make sure your fridge is fully stocked before you head home from work to alleviate grocery stress.
Most smart vacuums can be controlled remotely and can be programmed to follow a specific schedule. Automate your smart vacuum to clean up while you’re gone so you can enjoy a cleaner living space when you come home without giving up relaxation time.
Smart doorbells like Ring and Nest Hello alert you of any activity around your home’s exterior. With a smart doorbell, you can put your mind more at ease that your home is secure while you’re away.
- Laundry Machines
Smart laundry is becoming more popular and allows you to start loads remotely. To save time, schedule a wash cycle to finish when you arrive home from work.
- Indoor Cameras
Check-in on your pets or family members at home with indoor security cameras. Many cameras like the Arlo Pro come equipped with two-way audio so you can hear what’s going on and speak through the camera as well.
- Garage Door
Make sure your garage door is closed after you leave for the day with apps like Nexx Garage. Having a smart garage door alleviates one more security concern that comes with leaving home for long hours.
Save on energy costs by automating your thermostat. The Nest thermostat boasts its ability to learn your behavior and predict activity. It can also automatically shut off when you leave the house by pairing with your smartphone.
For Employers: Encourage Work-Life Balance While Staying Connected to Employees
For employers, encouraging work-life balance might sound like a slippery slope to employees falling off your radar altogether. But you can still keep in contact with employees while encouraging them to disconnect from time to time.
Utilize smart technology by scheduling memos and other announcements ahead of time, and try to send important messages during business hours only. This way employees won’t feel pressured to be online 24/7. You can also use smart scheduling capabilities to schedule regular meetings with employees to monitor their progress.
Another great way to encourage work-life balance is by offering employees smart fitness technology. Staying active is a huge predictor of mental health and productivity. Have teams take part in movement challenges via Fitbit or Apple Watch to get them feeling refreshed throughout the workday.
Embrace the Chaos
For some, work is so enmeshed with a personal life that it becomes easier to simply give in and embrace the chaos of the modern employee. Do your best to disconnect, set boundaries, and utilize the IoT, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you end up checking emails after bedtime because you have a big project coming up.
At the end of the day, it’s important to give yourself permission to have a less-than-perfect work-life balance. When the pressure is off, you’ll feel freer to be flexible and prioritize your time as needed.