Five ways to help your remote employees maintain a healthy work/life balance
Many people, especially over the past year, have experienced the benefits of working from home. From the time and money saved from not having to commute, to the luxury of ditching the office attire and being able to work in more flexible way, remote working gives people the chance to have a better work/life balance. However, that isn’t always the case.
With work being so accessible from home, many remote workers find it hard to fully disconnect from work and often end up working more than they would if they were based in an office or central location. In fact, research from the ONS found that in 2020, those who worked from home to any degree worked more hours than those who never worked from home.
From a business perspective, it initially seems positive for employees to be working longer hours. You may have even experienced a spike in productivity since having more employees based at home. But long-term this isn’t sustainable or beneficial for your employees’ wellbeing. Working long hours can lead to increased levels of stress, presenteeism and even burnout.
It’s therefore key to ensure your remote workers are maintaining a healthy work/life balance so they remain happy, healthy, motivated and engaged. Here are some ways you can do that.
1. Encourage regular breaks
‘Zoom fatigue’ is a concept that has been widely discussed since the pandemic, highlighting just how intense and draining working from home can be. In fact, as a result of back-to-back calls and being constantly connected to work, many people end up not taking a lunch break when they’re at home simply because they forget, or they don’t factor it into their schedule. As a result, it’s important to regularly encourage and remind your employees to take screen breaks throughout the day so they don’t become overwhelmed by work.
Whether it’s a few short breaks throughout the day or an hour at lunchtime, having time to disconnect, refresh and refocus is vital for your employees’ wellbeing and will help them maintain a good work/life balance. Having time away from their screen to keep on top of their personal demands or simply go for a walk, will give your employees a chance to regain a sense of balance. When they do log back into work, they’ll likely feel more motivated and productive too.
2. Limit communication outside of working hours
If you’re sending out internal communications or Managers are contacting team members late at night or on weekends, your employees will naturally feel inclined to stay connected to work and even act on requests, especially if they are working from home and have the means to do so. This means that work can easily bleed into people’s personal lives and prevent them from fully disconnecting from work and recharging.
So, respect your employees’ boundaries. Does a communication need to go out at 9pm? Often things can wait until the next morning and you can let your employees enjoy their evenings uninterrupted by work.
3. Set a good example
If all your Senior Leaders are working late, logging on at weekends and not setting boundaries between work and their personal lives, the rest of your colleagues will likely follow suit or feel pressured to do the same. So, for your business to really foster a healthy work/life balance, it’s important that your Managers are leading by example.
Every employee needs to look after their wellbeing and take time to recharge at the end of each day and for prolonged periods of time, no matter what role or position they have in your business. So it’s important that your Managers do that too. By taking their annual leave, not replying to emails on weekends and generally maintaining a clear boundary between work and life, they’ll demonstrate to the rest of your workforce that it’s ok to switch off from work. You’ll build a culture that fosters a healthy work/life balance.
4. Trust your employees
Trust is a key driver of employee engagement and it also fosters a healthy work/life balance too. By trusting your remote workers to work according to their own schedule, without closely monitoring them or micro-managing, you’ll give them the opportunity to structure their working days in a way that supports their work/life balance.
A surprising number of businesses don’t do this and instead over-monitor their remote employees, some even use software to look at employees’ screens and activity throughout the day. But this isn’t conducive to a happy, healthy and engaged workforce. Instead, it creates a culture of mistrust which can lead to presenteeism, low morale and disengagement.
So, make sure your Senior Leaders and Managers are giving your remote employees their vote of confidence and the freedom to work from home in a way that suits them. With flexibility, freedom and trust, your employees will be able to keep on top of their demands without sacrificing their personal life or wellbeing.
5. Provide valuable support
By giving your employees access to tools designed to support and improve their wellbeing, they’ll naturally be better at managing the challenges that arise in their personal and professional lives, therefore helping them sustain a good work/life balance. This goes for all employees too, not just those working remotely.
There are a range of different services and tools you can offer your employees that can make a positive difference. Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) are a valuable benefit that gives employees access to counselling, legal advice, mental health support and more. The support available will give your employees the opportunity to learn new habits to manage any issues they’re facing and create strategies to maintain a healthy work/life balance.
Beyond that, you could also give your employees access to guides, articles and information to educate them about the importance of maintaining a healthy work/life balance. Often, people only realise there’s a problem when they’ve reached the point of becoming stressed and even burnt out. Having the tools available in the first place will work as a preventative measure and help your employees create a routine that supports their work/life balance.
Working from home or remotely doesn’t directly create a bad work/life balance. It’s the practices around it that can have an effect and ultimately have a detrimental impact on employees’ wellbeing. By supporting your employees in the key ways we’ve mentioned, you’ll help them create a working environment from home that allows them to be productive and motivated as well as benefit from the greater flexibility and freedom it affords.
We deliver a fantastic range of health & wellbeing tools, services and resources through our solution, the zone. From one place, your employees can access a 24/7 GP Helpline, EAP, debt management service, online mindfulness course and more.
Visit our resources page to view the full range of services available.Find out more