As summer comes to a close and families prepare for back-to-school, making work and life balance—while juggling job expectations and career aspirations, helping with homework or school projects, and attending extracurricular activities—can be a challenge. The growing role of technology in our daily lives can add to this struggle, as expectations for employees to always be connected can further blur the lines between work time and personal time. This challenge can be further exacerbated for employees on global teams, where staying connected 24/7 may seem like a necessity, not just a way to get ahead.
What many business leaders and workers fail to understand is that 24-hour connectivity isn’t the best thing for well-being or productivity. Studies show that overworking employees can lead to decreased productivity, and even health issues.
Without knowing expectations, employees may be hesitant to approach managers about work-life fit issues for fear of appearing disengaged or out of step with business needs. This is why it’s doubly important for businesses who value the effectiveness of their employees and their teams to proactively open communications channels, not only to tacitly provide permission for their employees to take time to attend to personal and family needs, but also to provide guidance on how employees can make work and life fit together.
24-hour connectivity isn’t the best thing for well-being or productivity.
Based on my experience as a national managing director leading a geographically distributed team, below are five ways to carve out time for yourself and your family despite a demanding schedule:
- Set aside time for yourself in the morning. If mornings feel rushed getting yourself and your family ready for the day, start setting your alarm clock earlier than normal. Getting up 15 to 30 minutes earlier each day can allow some personal time to enjoy a cup coffee, have a conversation with your spouse or any other morning activity you enjoy but don’t typically have time for.
- Be in the office when it matters, but work from home when possible. While there’s a huge benefit with face-to-face interactions, not all meetings need to be done in person. Working remotely is becoming even easier with virtual meeting technologies that allow workers to join meetings with colleagues far and wide, so they can still feel like they’re in the room and engaged. Additionally, while on conference calls that don’t require looking at a presentation, employees may also find it easier to be less distracted by incoming emails and IMs popping up if they’re doing a simple chore like folding laundry while joining in on the discussion. Not only can it feel satisfying to accomplish two tasks at once, but it can also save you time later in the day that you can focus on spending time with family instead.
- Promote walking meetings. When your schedule is filled during the workday, it can be hard to find time to take a break from your desk to recharge. Studies have shown that short breaks away from your desk and computer are not only good for your physical well-being, but can also boost productivity and mental well-being as well. While it may seem difficult to find the time for a short break, consider proposing a walking meeting to your team. If visual components aren’t involved, a walking meeting can help lead to a more productive meeting since it raises energy, which can promote brainstorming and problem solving.
- Make time for a hobby. When focusing on the demands of work and family, it may seem impossible to find time for anything else. However, it’s important to make time for the things you enjoy doing. Whether you enjoy painting, a sport, volunteering or performing, finding time to focus on activities you love can make you better at other roles in your life.
- Stay organized at home. Balancing the role of being a parent and a business professional can be a challenge. To make morning and evening routines less stressful and time-consuming, consider labeling baskets and hooks so your spouse and kids know where to find things (and so they can put things away themselves!). Not only will your home look better, but your family won’t have to rely solely on you to keep the gears turning at home.
Don’t let the conversation stop with these tips. Continue to engage with workers regularly to keep a pulse on how your company can further improve its work environment and schedule leadership brainstorms to identify additional ways to promote better work-life balance. Many successful businesses understand that demonstrating you care about employees is what keeps workers around and gives companies a real competitive advantage.