The more flexibility an employee can work into their day the more effective they will be in achieving work-life balance in a Work From Home environment.
Experts on workplace cultures and employee engagement advise corporate leadership to stay curious and flexible when it comes to Work From Home (WFH) measures because what worked during 2020’s COVID-19 pandemic scenarios may not work in 2021’s scenarios. Flexibility regarding schedules and deadlines leads to fewer disruptions to the overall team in a WFH environment.
But what measures can individual team members take to ensure working from home does not overwhelm them or lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness? Such measures are especially important as increasing numbers of employees want the option to continue working from home once the dust settles from the pandemic. Or they would like to follow a hybrid workplace strategy, where they can both work at home and go into the office during the work week.
“We are surveying HR people who say they are going to be much more open to flexible scheduling to allow people to work from home a few days a week,” says Andy Challenger, senior vice president, Challenger, Gray and Christmas Inc., a global outplacement firm.
While some remote workers thrive, developing a rhythm to their processes, others struggle, and their productivity levels decline. Those achieving success are adapting and evolving to overcome challenges.
There are a few common themes to achieving a work-life balance in WFH:
- To begin with, these employees work for leaders who prioritize their needs, engaging with them daily to ensure they have resources and equipment for successful WFH strategies.
- Transparent, clear communication of goals and expectations by managers is important to employee engagement and combatting feelings of loneliness, Challenger notes. WFH procedures should be included in an updated employee handbook.
- Successful remote employees also feel they can safely share their feedback with managers, and they believe their needs are a priority to the leadership team.
- It is important remote employees have a safe way to log their hours, request time off, switch a shift or complete virtual trainings, as examples, says Julie Develin, HCM Strategic Advisor of the Ultimate Kronos Group.
- Remote workers also experience balance when they have the freedom to make appointments, take or pick up their children from school and/or events, or work their way, for example, working from noon-8 p.m.
- Balance also comes when employees sit down with their families and develop plans to ensure WFH is sustainable. For example, one parent might work in the mornings and the other in the afternoons to balance childcare, pet care and household duties. “It can be exhausting because you feel like you are never separated from household chores while you are trying to handle a professional career and perform childcare duties,” Challenger says. “Take the time to sit down with the family because it is clear this trend (WFH) is not going to go away.”
- Those achieving a balance also make conscious efforts to form connections, Challenger adds. “People that will be most successful in the work from home environment are the ones that put efforts into reaching out to colleagues that might be in a different department and asking them to have a cup of coffee during a Zoom call or set up a virtual happy hour to discuss things other than business.”
Challenger stresses that leadership in organizations understand the world is still operating in a crisis because of the pandemic. “We are still in an emergency. People are really being flexible around their work schedules right now; employees shouldn’t be afraid to ask for additional flexibility.”