Are your employees struggling to get into a groove while working from home?
Maybe you had an office where your business operated before Covid-19. Now things have changed, things are being run from home and you need to find a way to encourage work-life balance for your remote employees.
With the uncertainty of all the current events happening in the world right now, your workers already feel stressed.
On top of that, they’re having to adapt to new software and systems, like Zoom team meetings, in order to stay in touch and keep the ball rolling. It's no wonder your employees can't quite get their footing.
You aren't alone! There are steps you can take to get through this without bringing everyone back into the office.
You don't have to reinvent the wheel to have happy employees!
Some companies have already solved these problems. We've outlined their solutions and will share them with you, so you can learn how to encourage a work-life balance in your organization.
8 Ways to Encourage a Healthy-Work-Life Balance
Employees Should Have a Dedicated Workspace
Some people build an image in their heads for how working from home looks. They probably picture themselves on their iPads, in the bleachers at their child’s little league game.
Others might imagine sitting in a local coffee shop with their favorite frappuccino in front of them and soft music playing in the background.
But the reality is that most people can't work effectively in a distracting environment. They need a dedicated workspace.
So what is a dedicated workspace? Simply put, it's a particular spot your employee will work from when at home.
This workspace needs organization and dedication for only one purpose — work! And it needs to be free of distractions.
You see, when your employee comes into the office, they work in a structured environment surrounded by coworkers and bosses, this frees them from the everyday distractions of being at home.
They aren't looking at the mountain of laundry needing to get washed. They aren't thinking about the cookies in their pantry they want to eat. Or the pile of homework their middle-schooler is behind on.
By creating that office-like setting at home, your employees can separate business from the rest of their life, kids, household duties, hobbies, etc., motivating them to stay focused.
Another great benefit of creating a designated workspace is the tax write-off! The IRS allows tax deductions for people who use a part of their home for business purposes.
Not to mention, it's cheaper to work from home than to rent an office. Not only from the employer's standpoint, but it saves the employee time and the money they were spending for childcare, gas, work wardrobe, lunches, etc.
But how can you make sure your employees have the designated workspace they need?
The most important thing you can do for your team is equipping them with the right technology and productivity tools for success.
It's also helpful to talk to them about your expectations and share with them all the benefits of creating a designated workspace.
Some companies find it productive to get all new employees to upload a photo of their workspace. It's a fun way to interact with the rest of the team while allowing you to see if any flaws exist in their set up.
Allow Flexible Hours Where Possible
One of the best things about working from home is the flexible hours. A flexible work schedule allows your employees freedom from the typical 9-to-5 business day.
They won't have to start and stop their work tasks at set hours. With a flexible work schedule, employees work when it’s convenient for them.
This is especially helpful for team members who have children because daycare is expensive. When parents work remotely from home, they save money on daycare by working around their child's schedule.
Or maybe a member of your team cares for an elderly relative. It's hard to trust someone else with the care of an aging parent, so having a flexible work schedule might help your employee work around caring for their loved ones.
Another great benefit to work schedule flexibility is that your employee picks what hours are optimal for them. Some team members work better first thing in the morning while others are more creative at night.
Giving workers the freedom to pick and choose which hours they work ensures you get better productivity and higher quality work product.
With flexible schedules, employees increase their work-life balance by being more present in both. You’ll see fewer turnovers and reduced absenteeism while your team members enjoy more time at home with their families.
Help your employees set and manage their schedules at home by articulating how you will measure their performance. Make sure they understand you will base performance on the quality of their work and turnaround over actual hours clocked.
Utilize Communication Channels with “Do Not Disturb” Options
The Do Not Disturb option built into various communication channels — such as Slack — function to silence notifications during times you don't want to receive them. This option allows your employees to send messages at any time without worrying about bothering the recipient.
Do Not Disturb mode is a great way to let your workers clock out of chatter when they aren't working. This helps them feel like they can "leave" work and spend time with their family.
When they receive notifications, they may feel the need to respond instantly, especially if they are a workaholic, and this disrupts their work-life balance.
On the flip side of it, though, members of your team can signal the others that they are available by turning off the Do Not Disturb setting.
An employee who needs help can see who is online and reach out to them instead of reaching out to someone who is away from their computer. Workflow is increased because employees get the assistance they need so they can finish the task faster.
Employees who aren't dealing with the stress of feeling like they are always on the clock will be happier. To keep them that way, you need to set up communication channels with Do Not Disturb options. And just as important, you need to ensure that your team knows it's okay to use them.
Most companies are using software like Slack to provide this feature, but there are many other programs. Phone Systems like Dialpad also offer a Do Not Disturb option with their communication system.
When you look at communication systems, you'll need to look at all their other features and decide which option is the best fit for your business communications.
Set Client Expectations Correctly
Building a relationship with new clients is stressful. It takes time to get to know each other, but it's crucial to establish expectations early on.
Setting expectations with your clients paint a clear picture of what they can expect when working with your company. This would include such things as turnaround time frames and level of expertise.
It should also include communication. Some clients might expect email responses on the weekend or after business hours. If they don't understand when it's appropriate to contact your team, it can lead to frustration on both ends.
Regular communication is essential, but your company will, at times, run into some overbearing, needy clients. And the best way to keep those clients and your employees happy is to set realistic expectations in the beginning.
If your clients don't know how your team works and who does what within your organization, they could start calling everyone and might not respect your employees' boundaries.
This can create a lot of problems on both sides of the partnership. Clients aren't satisfied, and employees are stressed out.
To get in front of it and ensure your company and clients can work together for the long haul, you need to be specific and transparent. You must establish who their contact person is and make sure they know that it will do them no good to start calling other team members.
Make sure you set working hours, response times, and create dedicated support phone lines. Maintaining regular communication is important for keeping your clients in the loop.
Be honest with your clients, and don’t make promises your team can’t keep.
Doing this early on and continuing to manage everyone's expectations throughout the partnership will keep everyone in agreement.
Hold Regular Meetings with Agendas
Agendas are essentially a program for your meetings prepared and distributed to participants in advance. These meeting programs designate all the relevant and important details that need to be addressed during the session.
Holding regular meetings with agendas helps the participants refine the purpose of the meeting. It gives everyone time to prepare so that they can make a worthwhile contribution.
They have time to consider any questions or comments they want to add, which makes them feel valued and increases their loyalty.
That's why having agendas for your meetings is so crucial!
Agendas help direct everyone's attention to the most important matters at hand. It makes sure that you discuss the relevant issues.
It makes it significantly easier to keep the meeting on track and prevent wasting the attendees' time. Your employees will find they will stay focused when they have a list of discussion items in front of them to reference.
When setting up your regular meetings, check with all your employees. Make sure everyone downloads the software that you'll be using for the meeting. Zoom is one popular choice for video conferences.
You'll need to consider all your employees' time zones and set up a regular time and day that works well for everyone's schedule.
Then you can start creating your agenda by identifying your meeting's goal and the topics you need to discuss. Outline that information on your list, leaving time for any questions or limited off-topic discussions.
Encourage Vacation Time
When someone mentions vacation time, they don't usually mean a trip to Disney World or the beach. Vacation time usually refers to an employee's paid time off from work.
It is a designated amount of time your employees can take off from work, without worrying about how they will pay their bills. Of course, they can't just take it whenever they want. You'll need to set up appropriate parameters.
Employees usually have to accrue paid days off from work, and managers generally require that they request it in advance.
Encouraging your employees to take advantage of their vacation time will help enforce a healthy balance between work and home life. It's also very crucial in helping prevent work-related stress and employee burnout.
When a member of your team is under a lot of stress for an extended period, it can lead to an increase in their blood pressure and their risk for heart attack or stroke. Using their vacation time will help them break up the cycle of their work routine and decompress, while also lowering their risk for heart disease.
Being stressed out will negatively impact your workers' ability to focus. This decreases your organization's productivity. Making sure they get a stress-free break now and then helps refresh and motivate them to return to work.
If you want to encourage your employees to take time off, the best thing you can do is take time off yourself. Setting an example goes a long way. Your employees need to know it's safe to ask for a break, and watching you do it will create an environment where they feel comfortable admitting they need time off.
If you don't take a break, you set a particular culture and dynamic in your workspace. It sends the message that no one should take time off.
Make Time to Check-In With Employees Individually
You’ll see a vast improvement in productivity if you check in with your employees routinely.
Checking in with employees should happen on an individual basis. This can happen by sending a simple email, a phone call, or even a private message through Slack or whatever online workspace your organization uses.
But it's important to check in with your team versus check up on your team. If you’re reaching out to an employee to ask where they’re at with a task, you are 'checking up' on them.
This might make them feel more anxious and rushed. You don't want to induce more stress on your employees by micromanaging them.
Instead, it's beneficial to adopt a mindset of "checking-in" with your employees. Checking-in means asking them how they’re feeling or if they need help with a task.
Phrasing your questions in a way that makes them feel heard encourages collaboration. It puts you in a position to help provide your employees with resources they might need.
Checking in allows communication to flow between you and your team without putting them under constant surveillance.
Kevin Barber of Lean Labs referred to this as checking his workers' mojo meter in this webinar. You can follow his lead and start asking your employees to rate their 'mojo' on a scale of 1-10 regularly.
If you see a downward trend in an employee's confidence and energy by tracking their mojo meter, you can reach out privately. Set up a 15-30 minute phone call or Zoom meeting.
Then ask them if they could wave a magic wand and change anything about their job what would it be. Take this opportunity to let them talk and be heard!
Provide Relaxed Time With the Team
This means you set a block of time aside where your employees can relax and socialize with their coworkers.
Giving your team some free time together can help increase employee work-life balance, and it's as easy as encouraging non-work-related conversations at appropriate times.
Relaxed workplaces are beneficial to organizations because it enhances job satisfaction and creates a friendlier workspace. When your employees feel like what they're doing is less like work and more enjoyable, you will see a boost in productivity.
By providing opportunities for your employees to relax in their work environment regularly, your employees have the chance to get to know each other. This helps them interact better and feel like they’re contributing to their community by being productive.
It also motivates people creatively by allowing them to bounce ideas back and forth. When employees can come together like this, innovative ideas are born that can be implemented into tasks and projects.
Kevin Barber brought this up in his webinar as well. With his team, he has lunch delivered when they meet a goal. Then they all get together on Zoom and enjoy lunch and small talk together.
But you can incorporate relaxed time with your workers in whatever way you think will be the most effective.
You can start each meeting with a quick roundtable question like "what's the best thing that's happened to you this week." Or possibly have your employees show off their family (or fur-family) during a meeting.
Get Expert Guidance Navigating the "New Normal" in America 2.0
Your employees are wrestling with time management.
Of course, they feel like they never get any real-time off because since they started working from home, their job is always there!
If you don't act soon, your team is going to burn out.
But you can't just rush back to the office. Changing your business set up to a remote work operation is the path to a healthy employee work-life balance, so you have to find a way to support your team.
You don't have to do it alone, though!
At Bench Builders, we want to help you provide guidance, accountability, and strategy. We’ll keep you moving in a positive direction, ensuring your team conquers any roadblocks they might meet.
We'll come together bi-weekly to talk about and resolve challenges, learn from each other, and expand your knowledge.
In the tricky times ahead, you're going to encounter obstacles, and we want to be here to help.
Let's talk and see if our Small Group Coaching meetups are a good fit for helping you encourage employee work-life balance.
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