“It’s all about the quality of life and finding a happy balance between work and friends and family.” -Philip Green
In the past decade or so, we’ve witnessed an active discussion about the importance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance. In fact, nowadays, employees are increasingly prioritizing opportunities that offer them an environment where they can manage to devote dedicated time to their personal life as well. Not just that, 85% of businesses that provide work-life balance opportunities report that they are more productive and have a 25% lower turnover. Companies have been increasingly working towards building aids that can ensure this balance with weekends off, flexible working hours, etc.
However, things have become a little tricky in 2020. With the pandemic and the inevitable work from home situation that the world was forced into–new challenges have come up.
Challenges in the ‘New Normal’
The ongoing pandemic has forced us to embrace many things; quarantine, work on new goals and learn how to make sourdough bread from scratch (we may have given up on that one!).
Just as the employees have had to adjust to working from home, companies too pivoted to streamline the process as much as possible. Even though you may think that this remote arrangement is only till the pandemic, it’s time to re-evaluate.
A Gartner survey shows at least 49% of employees would like to continue working remotely even after the pandemic is over. However, this comes with its own set of challenges.
22% of remote workers feel unplugging from work is their biggest challenge. Similarly, more than half of the employees feel disconnected from their colleagues, and around 19% of employees feel a sense of isolation and loneliness. With so many challenges on top of an ongoing pandemic, here’s how you, an employer, can help your team maintain a healthy work-life balance.
How To Help Your Team Maintain A Work-Life Balance
1. Focus on Communication
Communication is one of the biggest challenges faced by remote workers. 20% of remote employees are struggling with collaborating and/or communication in 2020. You have to focus on improving communication with the team and work on how your team communicates with each other.
For instance, you can start by training managers in remote employee management and focusing on listening to feedback and implementing proactive communication. However, this is not enough.
You also need to focus on streamlining work output, scheduling, and task communication. You can use apps like Trello or Asana to improve the remote workflow of your organization. These apps will also improve your team’s communication as they have provisions for activities like informal breakout sessions.
2. Set the Right Expectations
When it comes to working remotely, it’s crucial to set the right expectations from the beginning. As an employer, it’s up to you to set the right expectations about remote work-life balance practices. For an employee, it may mean that they have to understand that work from home isn’t all about taking it easy, working in your PJs, and ‘being your own boss.’
On the other hand, you have to realize that just because your employees are working from home doesn’t mean that they have to work 24/7.
For instance, Zapier has this system called the ‘tree time.’ If an employee is feeling distracted and unable to focus, they can use this to let the rest of the team know that they want to focus on a certain task and are not to be disturbed.
3. Be Flexible
It’s crucial to recognize that everyone has different living conditions and that every employee comes from diverse backgrounds. This translates into several challenges while working from home. Some might have kids to take care of, while others might not have the luxury of working in a dedicated private room in their home.
It’s important to be flexible about your expectations from the employees. For instance, you should shift your focus from ‘x no. of hours worked’ to the employee’s productivity. The best way to do this is to discuss with your team about the best schedule for them (working hours, break times, etc.) and create a plan accordingly.
4. Practice What You Preach
The work culture in any organization is set at the top and followed throughout the organization. Hence, leaders and managers need to set the right example.
Practicing what you preach is an extension of setting expectations. Suppose the founders or managers in an organization emphasize work-life balance but are always online on slack after-hours, sending messages to various channels. In that case, the belief system falls flat in practice.
By doing this, the employees feel compelled to respond or stay active, especially while working remotely.
You can think of it as the remote equivalent of ‘you can’t leave before the boss leaves.’ As a leader, for the sake of your own well-being and to set the right tone, it’s important to practice what you preach.
We get it; as founders and managers, you have a ton of responsibilities. However, even if you do work beyond work hours, you should clarify that you do not expect the employees to respond or be active.
5. Be Mindful While Using Tools
Productivity tools are a great way to streamline the process of working remotely. For instance, this is how companies Like Gitlab, Automattic, And Buffer are nailing their remote culture. A significant part of their work culture is using the right tools and using them the right way.
You would’ve noticed that apps like Zoom have gained popularity for team video meets and regular calls. However, you should be conscious of how you’re using these tools, as they might end up being counterproductive.
For instance, according to a survey, around 70% of users suffered from ‘Zoom Anxiety’ this year. You can take the example of MPL, a company that has kept their Fridays as ‘No-Meeting Fridays’ to promote a healthy remote work environment.
Being mindful of your reliability and usability of productivity apps is essential to maintain a good remote work-life balance for your employees.
In The End
As an employer, creating a supportive yet agile working environment for employees is your priority. According to a survey, employees are 13% more productive when happy. While you may have been focusing on this before, it’s crucial to take a step back and rework your strategy.
Remote work is here to stay, and it calls for a re-evaluation of the set policies as the employee needs have changed drastically. The points mentioned above can act as a great framework for you to implement a remote work culture that values work-life balance as much as productivity.