By Megan Barbier, VP of Human Resources, Wrike
Employees around the world have quickly discovered the benefits and challenges that come with working from home. While many are making the most of their new flexible and virtual work environments, others are struggling to find the right balance between personal and professional.
Regardless of whether or not your workforce is embracing what some have called the largest ever work from home experiment, it’s obvious that remote working will become part of the new normal after Covid-19.
In fact, many businesses have already admitted that they will be encouraging staff to work from home more often once the pandemic passes. Even tech giant Twitter has told employees that they can work from home ‘forever’ if they wish, following the success of remote working during lockdown.
With the number of full-time, office-based employees set to decline, it’s critical that organisations are setting out detailed support strategies to help staff adjust to remote working. At the heart of this will be promoting the importance of finding a new normal work-life balance.
Maintaining healthy boundaries
Despite it sometimes feeling impossible, learning how to achieve a positive work-life balance has a direct impact on employee satisfaction, performance and productivity. Alongside an increased salary, 24 percent of full-time workers said they would be more engaged at work if they had a better work-life balance.
In an office environment this can seem more straightforward. When staff log off for the day, they can leave their professional life in the office and head home. When logging on from their sofa, dining room table or home office, however, finding the right symmetry becomes a challenge.
The reality is, that when done properly, remote working can dramatically boost employee health and wellbeing. A well-curated daily schedule of work and down-time can increase morale and outputs, while also reducing stress and burnout at the same time. Given that 29 percent of staff recently reported feeling disengaged at work due to feeling overworked, working from home could be the answer we’ve been looking for.
Learning how to maintain work-life balance is all about observing habits and forming new ones. Paying attention to what is and isn’t working is a good place to start and HR teams can help members of their workforce experiment with perfecting their system. It’s also crucial that staff are encouraged to take breaks, use their annual leave allowance, and power down at the end of the day, just as they would when working from the office.
Enabling communication and collaboration
Virtual offices may not be what most businesses are used to, but that’s not to say they can’t be just as effective as physical ones. In order to maintain productivity, ensure efficiency and cause minimal disruption, staff need to feel as though they are still able to easily communicate and collaborate with their colleagues and team members.
Even before the Covid-19 crisis hit, staff cited the ability to work effectively from anywhere as key to boosting their productivity. Forty percent also said that collaborating well was one of the top three reasons they were engaged at work.
This means giving employees access to the technologies they can rely on to do their jobs just as effectively at home. Despite remote working not necessarily being a new trend, many organisations still don’t have the right tools in place to enable this shift. Companies must therefore recognise the productivity challenges employees are bound to face, without the right support in place.
By providing your workforce with the technology they need, you can help ease the transition to remote working without it impacting the day-to-day running of the company. Video conferencing and messaging platforms may tick the communication box, but when it comes to project collaboration, things can quickly become confusing with a dispersed team. This lack of transparency can impact performance, with no clear way of seeing what others are working on or balancing workloads.
Leading by example
The current health crisis is acting as an unprecedented experiment for organisations, testing their ability to create a remote employee culture that promotes health and wellbeing over bottom lines. In order to encourage staff to maintain a positive work-life balance, leadership and HR teams must set the right example from the offset.
By rolling out technology that can help with assigning priorities and timelines, as well as balance workloads, employers can avoid the pitfalls of a decentralised work environment, limit overtime and, as a result, reduce employee turnover.
Flexible and remote working schemes are also attractive to job seekers, helping companies recruit and retain the best talent. While hiring may be on hold for the time being, that won’t last forever.
At the beginning of the year, we may not have predicted that 2020 would be the point that businesses went fully remote, but there are many benefits to doing so. Transitioning to a new way of working may present some initial challenges, but being able to optimise communication and collaboration – especially when physically being together isn’t an option – cannot be overlooked when it comes to maintaining business continuity.