Finding a line between work and home is a fine balance.

Finding a line between work and home is a fine balance.

There's an invisible line at the doorway of every workplace and it's where emotional baggage gets dropped.

Similarly, on the way out, workplace baggage is left behind.

But sometimes people ignore the line and forget to leave home at home and work at work.

Jackie Maxted

Jackie Maxted: working at home makes it even harder to separate work time from private time.

Human performance researcher and consultant Adam Fraser says technology has made it easy to take work home, even if working from home is not required.

“We're always on now,” he says.

“Technology means there's no barrier between work and home any more.”

Fraser says striking a work-life balance is a problem for 90 per cent of his clients. Commonly the unwanted intrusion of work into home life is at the crux of the issue.

“Most people have work-home conflict where they perceive one is affecting the other negatively and usually it's work affecting home life, not the other way around,” Fraser says.

“It's a massive, massive issue that people have tremendous guilt over.”

Fraser recalls one corporate client who used to walk through the front door of his home while still on a work phone call only to hang up and start bossing his family around.

“He said he would yell at them, expecting them to operate like a company,” Fraser says.

“Things got better for him when he built a whole new entrance to his house so he could walk straight to his room, take a shower in his en suite, unwind and prepare to go into dad-mode.”

Observing the boundaries between the office and home is even trickier for those who work at home.

Chief executive and founder of online beauty news source beautyheaven Jackie Maxted started her company from home while caring for her one-year-old.

She found differentiating work and home was extremely challenging while working from her lounge room.

“Creating an office space is really important, just anywhere you can close the door,” she says.

Whether it's sending work emails at dinner or taking after-hours calls during a movie, taking work home is sure to raise the ire of loved ones.

Equally as problematic is the personal issue, such an argument with a partner or misbehaving children, which becomes an irritating distraction during work hours.

So what is the best way to avoid blurring the lines between work and home?

•     Mind the gap. During the time you have before walking into work and walking into your home, reflect on what you are about to do. To find the right mindset, Dr Fraser recommends asking yourself, “What is my intention?” and “How do I need to behave?”

•     Rest and reset. Try to calm yourself on the way home from work by stopping in at the gym, trying a spot of Sudoku on the train or simply taking a few deep breaths before you walk through the door.

•     Wash the day away. “I find a shower is amazing; it's like physically washing the day off,” Maxted says. “It's refreshing, relaxing and it helps transform you.”

•     Switch off. Be disciplined and put your mobile phone, iPad and laptop away so you can stop working while at home.

•     Be positive. Don't continue to ruminate about work once the day's over. “Reflect on what went well, what you achieved and how you improved,” Dr Fraser says. “It puts people in a positive mindset even on the crappiest days.”

It's important for managers to set a good example when it comes to fostering a healthy work-life balance, says Australian Institute of Management executive general manager Tony Gleeson.

“As a leader, show people by example and take the time to sit down for lunch,” he says.

“Check in on people, talk to them and make sure they are taking breaks.”

Management should have workplace strategies or philosophies to guide staff on how to ensure work doesn't invade their personal lives, Gleeson says.

“We're not saving lives or babies in most business, so there has to be some perspective and strategy about what's important and what's not,” he says.

Fun workplace activities such as Australia's Biggest Morning Tea, a Cancer Council fund-raiser, are easy to organise and a good way to develop a healthy workplace culture, Gleeson advises.

“Try to get leverage from these activities because there's plenty to do and you don't have to reinvent the wheel,” he says.