Preserving Work-Life Balance in a Pandemic

May 29, 2020
3.5 mins | 850 words
By: Cowan Insurance Group

As we pull together to reduce the spread of COVID-19, working from home has become a new reality for many Canadians for the foreseeable future. For some, this is business as usual. However, many people may struggle with this new working arrangement, feeling isolated and unfocused without their daily office routine and interaction with coworkers. Additionally, many are also faced with the difficult task of balancing working from home with caregiving responsibilities.

Here are a few best practices to help you maintain a healthy work-life balance when working from home.

Get dressed.

Are you tempted to stay in your pyjamas all day? Don’t. It may seem simple, but the act of changing clothes can be a signal to get your day started and help draw the line between being at work and being at home. While you don’t need to put on a full business suit, try and make yourself presentable. Shower, do your hair and put on make-up—whatever you would typically do on a workday.

Set a schedule. 

Humans crave structure, regardless of whether they’re working in the office or at home. So while you’re working from home, it’s crucial to create a schedule and stick to it. For example, if you’re used to going to the gym before work, try to wake up early and get an at-home workout in before you start your workday.

Setting a schedule for yourself is just as important as setting one for those whom you’re looking after at home. If you have children, try to mirror their school schedule as much as possible. For example, have them wake up at the same time that they would for school, eat breakfast, and get ready. Then, have them work on activities for specific times, building in breaks for meals and going outside.

For other loved ones you may be caring for, you can take a similar approach and incorporate their standard routine with your schedule. Consider eating meals together and taking breaks to go for a walk outside or spend time together.

Create designated spaces.

Ideally, your at-home workstation would be at a desk or table, away from any distractions such as the TV. Add a comfortable chair and good lighting, if possible, to encourage good ergonomics.

Your workspace doesn’t have to be in a different room if you don’t have space; a corner will do. Working from your bed or couch can be challenging since these locations are associated with sleep and relaxation. Creating this separation will benefit your productivity as well as your mental wellbeing. If you’re working in a space or room that you need to use for non-work purposes, try to pack up your workstation each evening to make the end of your workday more decisive.

Not only will this help you remain productive while working, but it will also help communicate to others that when you’re in your workspace, you’re “at work.” Additionally, creating these separate spaces will further reinforce the schedule that you set.

Define your work time. 

After designating your physical workspace, you should also clearly define your working hours. If possible, consider sticking to the regular hours that you would have in the office. You will be more productive, and it will make transitioning back to working in the office easier when the time comes.

Take breaks.

Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you can’t take breaks. When you do take a break, make sure to distance yourself from your at-home workstation. Maintaining physical separation between your work and home life is important for your mental wellbeing. If you never fully disconnect from work, both your work productivity and home life will suffer.

Woman sitting at the table waving hello to someone after beginning a conversation over a video conferencing platform.

Photo by Marcus Aurelius from Pexels


Suddenly finding yourself in a work-from-home situation may leave you feeling lonely and disconnected, even if you do have others at home with you. The casual interaction you had with coworkers is now cut off. Stay connected with coworkers through Slack, Microsoft Teams, email, texts or phone calls. The method doesn’t matter as much as just keeping in touch does.

When you’re balancing your job and caregiving responsibilities, it’s important to communicate with those you’re looking after as well. Be honest about your situation with managers and coworkers. Doing so will help ensure, set, and manage expectations during the time you’re working from home.

Cowan is here to help you with all your employee wellness questions. As a key partner for Invest Ottawa, Cowan offers customized group benefits and insurance programs and expert advice. Contact them today at to learn more.


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As a prominent Canadian-owned and operated independent insurance brokerage and consulting operation, Cowan Insurance Group provides real value in insurance and risk management solutions to businesses, organizations, and individuals. Approaching 500 employees and operating out of 12 locations across Canada, we partner with leading national and international insurance companies to advise on and create retirement, group benefits, disability management, and international benefits programs for employee groups. We also offer wealth and asset management as well as financial and succession planning services to individuals and specialize in property, casualty, and credit insurance. For additional information about Cowan Insurance Group, visit

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