Work and life have been colliding into one entity over the past few months as employers and employees have become well acclimated to a remote world. So, as companies and their employees continue down this path of uncertainty, it’s important to ensure that we have effective leaders to help teams continue to navigate this way of working and living over the potential long term.
When working from home, work-life balance takes on a different meaning. Work is more inside your life than ever, so it can be more and more difficult to disconnect as a result. Research shows that employees who feel like they have a healthy work-life balance are more effective at work and experience less burnout.
As we face this continued challenge of work and life colliding, here are four ways to ensure that your team continues to achieve a productive, yet healthy, work-life balance that you can effectively manage now and in the future.
Check In and Be Supportive
Check in with your employees frequently, not only as a group, but also individually. Instead of just asking, “How are you doing?” try being more specific by asking your employees, “What areas do you feel are going well for you right now?” or “In what areas do you need help currently?” Everyone is being affected in different ways and therefore has different needs. Get to know how your employees are handling remote working and if there are ways you can provide extra support. Feeling supported can help diminish the stress your employees are experiencing. If you don’t feel like you can describe how your employees are handling this crisis, it’s never too late to ask!
Evaluate Your Team’s Ability to Be Resilient
Work-life balance looks different for each of your employees, so how do you help them manage this change? Understanding your team members’ resilience – their capacity to adapt positively to pressure, setbacks, challenge, and change in order to achieve peak performance – is a great place to start. There are many tools and resources that can help you identify this, such as using a team or individual assessment which measures the key components of resilience (e.g., optimism, adaptability, support seeking, etc.). Then, you can provide development opportunities to encourage your employees to grow in this area through ways such as coaching, webinars, or books.
For some, it may be a while until we are back working in an office environment, and even when we do return, the office will look like a very different place. Create a mentorship program where everyone has the opportunity to partner up with another colleague. You can set up the program however works best for your organization, but one approach could be for partners to schedule regular check-ins, talk about the impact of their “new normal,” and share resources and tools to help each other grow and be successful. No one should feel like they need to tackle stress alone, and a mentorship program would be a great way to provide additional support to one another.
We must remember that individuals are not only working from home, but also overseeing their children’s educational or daycare needs, providing care for a loved one, or balancing schedules with other members of their household. It may be difficult for employees to juggle their typical work schedule with these new demands. As a manager, you can adjust team meeting times so that they work for your employees’ new responsibilities at home or alternate the times. For example, one week have a team meeting that occurs in the morning and the next week schedule the meeting in the afternoon. Everyone’s needs will be different so make sure you are listening to the needs of your team and being flexible where possible.
Although there may be much out of our control during this time, there are many things that leaders can continue to help manage within their teams. Remote collaboration takes a bit more effort in a virtual world, but ultimately will prove effective and successful when your employees feel valued, feel as if they have the necessary flexibility to navigate this way of working, and feel close (or as close as they can feel) to their managers and teams.