When managing a company, it’s important to remember that you’re not just supporting a business — you’re also building something for your people. To create a happy and productive work culture, managers must work hard to maintain their team’s well-being.
The COVID-19 pandemic curveball has taken a toll on many people’s mental health. Balancing home life and work brought its own host of problems, but also a new level of mindfulness about peoples’ boundaries during this new era of work. As we slowly transition to a post-pandemic hybrid workforce world, businesses must ensure that they account for their remote workers’ mental health.
When combining this new normal way of working with overall globalization, new technologies, and living in a 24-hour connected society, it can be a tall order to figure out how to maintain a healthy work-life balance for your team. Here are some helpful tips on protecting your hybrid team’s work-life balance and wellbeing!
What is work-life balance?
Before we get into how to protect your hybrid team’s wellbeing, let’s first define what it means to have a work-life balance.
Work-life balance is the careful management of our time commitments between our job, family, and personal life. It’s an ongoing process that requires each individual to maintain focus on all three while still having enough energy for each.
However, writer Elizabeth Spiers says that there’s a danger to balancing all three facets of life. “Your home is no longer the office; the office is now your home,” Spiers wrote.
Even in a ‘normal’ work schedule (commuting to work and back home), this balance was challenging to find. Now, in this future-of-work era, balance can be even more challenging because home offices and home life often share the same physical space, blurring lines between hybrid work-life and personal life.
The challenges of finding work-life balance for hybrid teams
We have officially entered a new era where the hybrid work model is an important asset for any organization. There are numerous hybrid work benefits, such as fostering collaboration between coworkers, networking opportunities, schedule flexibility, and greater autonomy for employees. Not to mention, a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research shows that a hybrid work environment can lead to a 4.5% increase in productivity.
On the flip side, you (as a manager or team leader) also have to remember that there’s a delicate balance between encouraging your team to be productive at home and (unintentionally) leading them to burnout. While every person varies in their work styles and every team has different ways of operating, there’s no doubt finding that balance and figuring out when your team members are at risk of burnout can be tricky.
Harvard Business Review published a conversation with etiquette expert Judith Martin, where she argued that American workplace culture was in trouble. “There is no distinction between your business life and your personal life,” Martin wrote.
Let’s go over three common challenges hybrid team members face that may get in the way of work-life balance, so you can recognize the warning signs.
- People have a hard time “shutting off” at the end of the day.
Remote work often comes with the benefit of having a flexible work schedule, but that doesn’t mean your remote employees are taking a lot of siestas. The ‘no set work hours’ schedule in a hybrid workspace can make it difficult to recognize when you should log off for the day.
In fact, 22% of respondents in this Buffer study said they struggle most with “unplugging” when the workday ends. This can lead to a cycle of working much later than a person should if they want to protect their mental health. In addition, 80% of leaders who participated in a global study reported they find hybrid work to be emotionally taxing and draining because of these blurred lines.
- It takes extra effort from those balancing dual responsibilities at the same time.
We have to remember that remote employees often have dual responsibilities of a full-time job and home life. For example, your team members may need to find time to take care of kids or elderly family members while trying to work. Remember, these are people who probably share the same physical space as their at-home office space.
Klara, an accountant featured in this BBC article, said this about this all-too-common challenge: “It’s the psychological shift – the change of setting every day – that’s so tiring; this constant feeling of never being settled, stressed and my productive home working always being disrupted.”
- Collaboration tools can become demanding when there are no boundaries.
Working at home has led many people to use collaboration tools and apps, like Slack, to stay connected with their coworkers. At a physical location, these apps aren’t always necessary on personal devices because you can communicate and collaborate face-to-face. These apps are both a blessing and a curse. They allow you to step away from your computer while remaining connected to your team members, but it also makes a full-time job quite literally, full-time.
Maintaining a healthy work-life balance: how to take care of your hybrid team’s wellbeing
The best way to avoid burnout in a hybrid work-life world is to be mindful of your team members’ work schedules, employee well-being, and company culture around working. Let’s get into more detail about how to be mindful of these aspects and some hybrid best practices that will protect your team’s mental health.
- Listen to your team members
When it comes to hybrid team management, one of the best things you can do for your team is to listen to them. It seems simple, but it’s not always enough to keep an ear out for complaints. Making sure your team feels taken care of usually requires having check-ins with individual team members, so they have an opportunity to be honest about how they feel. In these private meetings, you can ensure they have enough time and support to enjoy their personal life with their current work schedules.
Another way to listen to your team members is by taking a look at their quality of work. It may seem like the answer is to reprimand or fire someone whose quality of work is faltering, but poor performance might actually be an indication of burnout. Again, we suggest having a one-on-one check-in with them to see how you can help them feel supported. Be prepared to agree on some work arrangements, such as reimbursing for childcare or giving extra vacation days, with any team members experiencing burnout so they can recharge, refresh, and come back ready to produce their best work again.
- Give your employees time off
Taking time off is a significant way to help your remote employees’ work-life balance. As a manager or leader, you want to make sure you’re creating a kind of company culture where people aren’t afraid to speak up when they need to take the time they need for themselves.
Similarly, you could limit the number of hours your team works to ensure everyone is well-rested and taking the necessary time to pay attention to home-life just as much as they do to their work-life during work hours. Pro tip: Clockwise lets you gain immediate insight into your team members’ bandwidths so that you can be proactive about balancing workloads.
- Schedule fun team-building activities
This new normal of hybrid work-life naturally can result in less in-person employee engagement, which can lead to feelings of loneliness — in the same study by Buffer mentioned earlier, 19% of respondents claimed loneliness was a significant challenge of the hybrid work model and feeling less connected with the company as a whole. The best remedy? Fun team-building activities!
If possible, you could have everyone come to the office for a day of games. If your team lives in different locations, you could organize some fun online activities, such as a virtual cocktail-making class or Quaranbingo — a virtual bingo event held over Zoom! No matter the situation, team-building activities will give everyone a chance to socialize with their coworkers and help them break up the monotony of working all day.
How Clockwise can boost better work-life balance
We here at Clockwise have one main goal: to optimize your team members’ work schedules to create more time in everyone’s day. This is why in this near-post-pandemic world, we’re working even harder behind the scenes to promote ways to protect people’s personal life while continuing to feel productive and accomplished at work.
Our most powerful tool to achieve this? Focus Time.
Focus Time helps people work by managing their workloads. When you enable Focus Time, Clockwise will automatically find ways to protect your remote team’s focus time by opening up blocks of uninterrupted work sessions, rescheduling conflicting team meetings, and overall managing their workspaces so they aren’t overworking themselves. Learn more about Focus Time in this blog post.
Nowadays, it’s not just how many hours you spend at your desk or in meetings, but also how well you manage your time so you can enjoy the other parts of your life. As a manager, the best way to do this in a hybrid workplace is to make sure you’re investing in your team’s work-life balance.
While there are numerous hybrid work benefits such as schedule flexibility, more trust, and greater collaboration among team members, it also comes with numerous challenges. While hybrid team management can be tricky to navigate, it’s definitely not impossible. With the right guidelines in place, you could achieve a work environment that is nurturing, open, and motivating!