In our world today, being always ‘on’ is a condition that is all too often the rule rather than the exception. But being glued to our laptops, tablets, mobile devices 24/7 is a sure path to burnout. As we move into a new year, from a leadership or managerial standpoint, understanding the importance of work-life balance and the environment we are creating for our employees can be an important element of overall success for the company as a whole. Let’s look at some of the things you can do to focus on creating a culture that values work-life balance.
Set Communication Expectations
Communication is a vital factor in the success of any business, no matter its size. But it’s important to create and set expectations when it comes to communication that your employees know and understand. For instance, a manager might be a night-owl and like sending emails late at night, but it’s important to set the standard for the employee or team members receiving those emails. Are they expected to answer them, no matter what time received, or are they expected to answer at a reasonable time, perhaps during normal work hours? What if there’s an urgent matter, does that require a different response expectation? It’s not difficult to address these things with your team, and you’ll find that by setting those expectations early on, you’ll have a happier, more productive team.
Offer Flexible Availability
The ability to work remotely offers a flexible work environment for employees and that is often highly desirable for today’s workers. Working remotely doesn’t necessarily mean “disconnecting,” but it does afford your team members the luxury of working from the comfort of home every now and then instead of making the trek to the office. That’s where the benefit of technology like video conferencing systems can pay off, because it’s easy to connect remote workers with the rest of the team and collaborate in a seamless manner. Offering remote working options on a regular basis can lead to increased productivity, greater job satisfaction, and allow you to attract and retain talent more effectively.
Use Technology Wisely
There are so many ways that technology can enhance the work experience, using it wisely is important. Whether it’s integrating real-time unified communications into the workplace—this includes things like voice communication, mobility, web and video conferencing, instant messaging/chat, etc.‑or looking at technology that allows the automation of tasks and streamlining of processes, technology can play a big role in overall work-life balance within the organization.
Establish a Work Culture that Disconnects
We live in a culture that glorifies being busy, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. Being constantly tethered to our devices leads means that we don’t disconnect during work hours, and we rarely disconnect during personal hours. Even though it’s incredibly dangerous, many of us can’t manage to put our phones down while driving. How many of you reading this go to dinner with a friend and have your phone on the table, within arm’s reach? Or have your phone in hand while at the park with the kids? Or sleep with the phone by the side of your bed? We are largely addicted to the technology that keeps us connected and that can lead to many things that negatively impact health and well-being.
Company executives can lead by example when it comes to establishing a work culture that promotes the value of disconnecting, and that can be good for everyone. Perhaps that’s a prohibition of work communication on the weekends unless absolutely necessary, or the development of an on-call system, so that there’s a rotating roster of folks who handle problems that arise and everyone else is off the grid. Perhaps that’s a closing of the company between Christmas and New Year’s and asking employees to disconnect and enjoy their families. Perhaps it’s regular team-building outings that take employees off site for a fun event and requiring they turn mobile devices off and/or leave them for several hours at a time. There are all kinds of things you can do to create a culture that values disconnecting, you just have to want to do it.
What does the work-life balance within your company look like? Hopefully there are some ideas here that can set you on the path to improving yours in the coming year.