As organizations adjust to our ever-changing reality when it comes to social distancing and finding new ways of doing business, many of us have moved to having a high percentage of our workforce working from home. As a result, many employees have ended up working a lot more hours from home than they normally would.
With the commute gone, people start working sooner and are less likely to stop work at a specific time because they don’t have to think about traffic or how soon they’ll be arriving home to family. Unfortunately, this can lead to burnout, and it’s something employers should consider taking proactive steps to manage.
Ways Employers Can Impact Work/Life Balance for Remote Employees
There are a lot of things employers can do to be proactive about this. Here are some tips for employers looking to influence work/life balance for remote employees:
- Be wary of scheduling meetings outside of normal work hours, even if you know employees are likely to be available.
- Discourage leaders from sending messages at all hours. That prompts employees to answer at all hours. If possible, utilize scheduling software options to save messages to be sent during the workday.
- Ensure expectations and goals are set appropriately.
- Ensure leaders judge individuals based on outcomes, not the number of hours they work. Don’t incentivize people to be online 24/7.
- Encourage leaders and employees to set “out of office” notifications after a specific time of day so people don’t feel compelled to answer messages that come in after hours.
- Encourage employees to take breaks, which may not come naturally in a home environment. Consider providing software that reminds employees of break times.
- Ensure your teams still have access to wellness initiatives. If you’ve got benefits that encourage wellness or activities, make sure people can take advantage of them remotely.
- If you don’t already have an employee assistance program (EAP), consider implementing one to get employees access to help if they need it. Ensure the one you choose has remote options.
- Send team members resources to help them maintain mental and physical health.
- Ensure leaders set good examples. Discourage them from working all hours so employees don’t feel the pressure to follow suit.
- Encourage employees to work the hours that work best for their life whenever possible. You may expect them to work the same hours they did before, but they may now have additional obligations, like home-schooling or caring for ill loved ones. Given that, they may end up trying to work normal hours but making up work during other times anyway. If they know they have the freedom to work the times that make the most sense, they may be more able to create balance.
- Notwithstanding the point above, encourage employees to keep as much of a schedule as they can, even if that schedule differs significantly from before. Creating and keeping a routine can help mentally and keep people engaged and healthy.
- Help employees create separation between work and home life. This can be as simple as providing the right tools and software and other equipment so they can create a workspace within their home. It may mean providing further help than normal, such as subsidies for office furniture and the like—they key is to allow employees to create a workspace that is as separated as possible from home life so that work and home can be physically separated when possible.
By taking proactive steps to influence work/life balance, employers are less likely to have frustrated, burnt-out employees as we adjust our work norms. What else would you add to this list?
Bridget Miller is a business consultant with a specialized MBA in International Economics and Management, which provides a unique perspective on business challenges. She’s been working in the corporate world for over 15 years, with experience across multiple diverse departments including HR, sales, marketing, IT, commercial development, and training.