Attempting to Adjust and Find Work-life Balance in a Remote World

Part 2 of 2

While the previous piece, “Drawing the Line Between Personal and Professional in Remote Work,” called for an analysis of this weighty issue, it has to be noted that many companies have already instituted remote work before the Covid-19 pandemic struck the business world. In fact, an analysis by Flexjobs and Global Workplace Analytics pointed to how remote work has increased by 159 percent between 2004 and 2017

Temporarily halting business operations, the pandemic has pushed companies to encourage employees to work from home. This might be the highest number of remote employees in business history.

Unfortunately, many employees, who solely worked on-site, aren’t acquainted with this type of workplace setup. Moreover, the health crisis adds another level of complexity that pre-Covid remote workers didn’t have to face. The transition to remote work under these circumstances is nothing short of overwhelming for new remote workers.

Managers had to deal with disparate employee situations amid remote work — some taking care of their children, others struggling to connect with people. It’s become more apparent to global mobility and HR managers that their role in supporting the companies’ workforce has been amplified by this major shift to remote work. 

Global mobility and HR managers found the need for employees to draw the boundary between work and personal life. With public health advisories, physical social distancing, and remote working, many employees are situated at home with their families. 

Virtual classes and the “slow death of childcare centers” have forced children to stay at home. So present-day remote workers now work at home with family members around. Without setting clear lines between the two, employees are bound to get distracted and ultimately result in reduced productivity. 

Nick Ustinov, CEO and CTO at Lokalise, had the same findings in his company. Initially, Nick and his company’s management board were more concerned about sustaining a high level of employee productivity and ensuring workflows. To their surprise, employees noted that they were having a tough time maintaining healthy boundaries between their personal and professional lives — productivity, not as concerning.

According to an Airtasker survey of 505 remote workers, 29 percent struggled to achieve work-life balance. On top of that, almost a third of its respondents, who fall under the millennial demographic, found it difficult to maintain a proper work-life balance. 

So what steps do employers need to make to ensure their employees are on the right track when it comes to proper work-life balance?

We’ve gathered a couple of tips:

Have a dedicated workspace

Conventional in-office workspace helps employees rid themselves of worries presented at home. But the shift to remote work, paired with the existing pandemic, positions employees in a workplace setup surrounded by numerous distractions. It comes in all forms such as family duties or even the temptation to relax in bed.

Keep a dedicated area in your home solely for work. Make sure employees are rid of the sight of other areas at home that pose a threat to their productivity. California Corporate Housing acknowledged this increasing need and ensured tenants a designated workspace to separate personal and work life.

Follow a work schedule

Many companies have begun to embrace flexible working hours with the rise of agile development, but that doesn’t mean an employee can’t benefit from sticking to a work schedule. Companies found out that many employees are experiencing burnout from working longer hours. 

In July, Flexjobs and Mental Health America (MHA) surveyed more than 1,500 professionals and found that 37 percent were working longer hours since the pandemic had started. That being the case, managers ought to promote set work schedules for their employees. This way, employees can communicate with their families about their work schedules.

Encourage time off

Managers should remember that employees should spend only around a third of their day working for the company. Contending the stresses of adjusting to a new standard of business operations coupled with the health crisis, employees are facing mental health issues more than ever.

It’s important to give employees ample time to rest and cope up with their families in these uncertain times. 

Don’t read notifications outside working hours

It’s tempting to check a team’s project’s work progress, new task assignments, or a feedback message outside working hours. But doing so creates a lot of stress for the employee and promotes an “always on” culture.

Asynchronous communication has helped supervisors manage remote teams, but they must discourage any form of work activity beyond an employee’s designated working hours. This helps employees grasp the necessary boundaries to reach a work-life balance. 

Leave workspace after working

It’s easy to stay in the workplace and start browsing the net for leisure. However, an employee getting stuck in the workplace destroys any attempt to separate work and play. 

Managers should encourage employees to take a walk or spend time with the family the exact moment their work ends. Help them understand the benefit of planning out after-work activities to disrupt the possibility to extend working hours.

Global mobility and HR managers have to get creative in promoting work-life balance within their workforces or else they risk losing productivity, or in worse cases, an exceptional employee.

They have to maintain a deeper understanding of each employee’s response to the transition to remote work and need to serve each employee with careful support.