The world today moves at a faster pace than it did just a few short years ago. With data, news and technological connectedness always at our fingertips, it’s difficult for employees across every industry to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
While this may seem like a boon for employers, in reality it has resulted in a decline in productivity across a number of sectors. As many as 10% of Americans are considered workaholics and over 75% of workers report that workplace stress has affected their personal relationships.
If you’re looking to bring vitality back to your office, consider encouraging your team members to develop healthier work-life boundaries. Starting down that road isn’t always easy, but once you’ve begun you’ll find that the whole office benefits from your efforts.
The Benefits of Work-Life Balance
Why wouldn’t you want your team at your beck and call 24-7? Because when your team members have time to go home and rest, they’re able to give their projects space. With that space comes increased creativity, passion and drive.
Some of the other benefits of improved office-wide work-life balance include:
- Improved team member retention: have your team members been slowly but steadily leaving for greener pastures? Sometimes, when the stress of a project starts to bleed into personal time, your team members will need to do just that. If you want to keep your talent in-office and reduce burnout, you’ll need to give your team the time, space and resources they need to stay physically and mentally healthy in the face of stressful assignments.
- Lower in-office stress levels: speaking of stress, deliberately setting work-life boundaries helps keep your office space calm. When employees know that they won’t be chastised for turning off their work phones after they leave the office, they’ll be more enthusiastic when returning to work the next morning.
- Higher team productivity: it’s exhausting to stay professionally “on” even in your off-hours. If your team members feel they can’t take a break from work, then their productivity is going to slip. Not only that, but their ability to attend to the minor details of a project, client meeting or other in-office demand will suffer. If, instead of pushing your team to stay “on” all the time, you encourage boundary setting, then your team will be able to bring its A-game to its most important assignments.
Promoting Work-Life Balance in the Office
The benefits of a better work-life balance are quantifiable. How, though, do you go about ensuring that your team members keep their own needs in mind?
Check in With Your Team
The best place to start, when encouraging work-life balance within your organizations, is with your employees. Before making any big changes, check in with your team members. What are the problems they’re facing? Which of those problems crop up most? What are their thoughts on their current work-life balance, and how would they like to see the office environment change to better support that balance?
If you want to keep things simple, send a survey around the office. Once you have the results back on your desk, you’ll be able to make changes that specifically help your team members.
Embrace Remote Work & Telecommunication
Your office space is designed with productivity in mind. Naturally, your employees are going to be able to focus better when they come in – right? Not always. Working from home actually increases employee productivity, as it lets your employees set their own schedules and take breaks without feeling pressured to get back to work.
Does this mean that you should run your entire business through the cloud? Not necessarily. However, consider letting your team members work from home one or two days a week. This way, parents in your office won’t have to take PTO to care for sick kids, and you won’t have to lose a full day of work. You’ll be reducing the stress your team endures while boosting its productivity.
Work Smarter, Not Longer
The numbers vary, but studies have shown that employees are often only productive for two or three hours out of an eight-hour shift. The possibility makes one wonder: if your team members can see to their daily responsibilities in six hours instead of eight, why are you keeping them in the office for as long as you are?
Take note: this doesn’t mean that you should start cutting hours around the office. Moving someone from a full-time position to a part-time position just because they’re good at their job doesn’t set a good example for your other team members.
Instead, consider experimenting with a four-day week. Alternatively, let your team members set their own schedules. If they’re getting their work done on schedule and in fewer hours than the nine-to-five demands, you can afford to give them more time to spend at home. Not only will doing so boost productivity around the office, but you’ll be actively preserving your team’s mental health. Talk about a win-win.
Lead the Charge
Above all else, make sure you’re setting an example. You can’t encourage your team members to take breaks and breathe if you’re not taking breaks yourself.
What can you do, then? Leave the office by five or six every day. Set up an auto-response email to answer any messages sent your way when you’re out of the office. Schedule deliberate time away from your computer and clients during the week.
The boundaries you set to preserve your personal balance will do more than keep you excited about your work. When you deliberately take time away from your work, your employees will realize that it’s not only healthy to set work-life boundaries, but that it’s encouraged.