Where do you stand on “work-life balance?” Some people believe it’s two separate things, where work is negative and life is positive. You must complete the grudge work before you can enjoy your life. Others see it as a way to integrate the two and enjoy both compartmentally. But now that the pandemic has forced many to change the way they work, it’s blurring some lines.
We’ve always known that remote working can help employees be more satisfied with their work environment, with nearly 90% of remote workers reporting so, and almost 50% of them saying they’re “very satisfied” with working from home.
But you can’t just send employees home and expect them to immediately dive into work at home. In order to get the best out of our team members, we have to make sure we put clear expectations in place, and that especially revolves around when to turn work on and off now that work and life share a physical space.
Readjust the way you look at productivity
Think of how you were raised to believe in work. It was that 9-5 commitment adults had outside the home in order to fund the necessities of life. They met up with other individuals at the office, completed jobs in close proximity, and clocked out when the day was done. Bringing work home may or may not have happened, but it was never planned for. It was supposed to be completed in the office. Overflow happened at home. Life happened when they walked in the door for dinner with the family, or a trip to the pumpkin farm on the weekend.
At some point, a shift began. Work became easier to take home because it was now doable on our phone. Heck, we even have cars that emit WiFi now, for crying out loud. We always have the ability to be “plugged in.”
Hustle culture took over and productivity became the cool new thing. How much we could accomplish in a day was a huge defining trait. It is, for lack of better words, a super power. And now, this takeover of work embedded in every aspect of our lives is creating massive burnout.
And it’s only going to be worse. In fact, a recent report by Ameritrade shows that 59% of millennials in the US are now inspired to get a side hustle once this is over to help keep financial stability, which will add to their already full plates.
All of this leads to us wondering, “why?” When was the last time you spent an entire day away from work, not once checking your email on your phone, responding to a quick message from a co-worker, or checking in on Facebook or Twitter and coincidentally seeing an update from a colleague or your business page and spending time reading it.
Our “always on” culture is creating a co-dependency on work that wasn’t there before. It’s up to us employers to show our employees that work doesn’t have to be the main focus of life, especially when it’s harder to separate it from their home since it now happens there.
How do we change it? If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that nothing is promised tomorrow. And with that, more people are beginning to look for fulfillment outside of just work. One quick example is that home improvement spending has skyrocketed, with nearly 70% of Americans saying they’ve tackled at least one thing on their list to improve their home’s value.
Our job as employers is to encourage walking away from the computer. Encourage “life” to happen. Encourage PTO usage with no disruptions from work. The more we can do this, the happier our employees will be because they’ll get the well-deserved time away that they’ve earned.
Ending long hours as a measurement of commitment and loyalty
If Jonny is constantly signed into Slack, always working, always responding, Jonny is seen as a dependable member of the team. Unfortunately, Jonny is also the secret “weakest link.”
The amount of hours put in by an employee doesn’t always equal great work. Great thought equals great work.
People who spend hours and hours outside of normal work time staying online are often not being as productive as they seem within the constraints of business hours. They’re likely overloaded. The work they accomplish outside of normal hours is actually the work that should have been completed within it. The work completed within those hours is likely what needs to be handed off or shared with others.
This makes Jonny leaving scary when he finally does find time to slip away because your company won’t know what is and isn’t being handled, and likely will find some big holes in coverage. You may have an idea of what Jonny does, but do you know why it takes 12-13 hours per day, minimum?
Overloading an employee is not the fault of the employee, it’s the fault of the management. At some point, management not only has to recognize workload, but they have to be able to disperse it in a way that is somewhat equal across the team. No one person should be involved in every single thing across the company. Even CEOs and visionaries who intimately know their companies have those they delegate work to. And when they do, they expect daily decisions to be made at that level that they never have to be a part of.
If you notice that an employee is overworking, don’t glorify it. See it as a sign of a problem, and move toward a solution. Otherwise, you’re setting the example that longer hours equals better employees, and that’s almost never the case.
Now that many of us work from home, it’s a more level playing field for productivity (if we make sure our team members are set up for success). People can’t pop into your office as easily, and technology allows you to become your own gatekeeper of sorts. You can turn off notifications when you’re deep in an assignment, and you can schedule meetings versus a quick hello turning into a 45-minute conversation near the coffee pot.
By removing the time-wasters we’ve all been exposed to in the office, we now have more time to focus on work. It’s our job to see this shift in our team, and monitor who still seems overburdened with tasks and deadlines. Those are the people that need our help most to distribute extra work, or even hire another person to help them.
Hiring during a global pandemic is happening, and if your team needs to, now is the time to take advantage of hiring outside of your geographic bubble to find great talent that may be a few states away.
If you need help with hiring and onboarding, here’s a post that will show you how we do it for our 100% remote team.