Capitol Management LLC

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Work/Life Balance for Remote Workers

A big misconception about a remote workforce is that it completely fulfills employees’ desire for work/life balance. While remote work options can certainly help, it does not always lead to employees fulfilling their work/life balance desires. However, there are methods that managers can use to ensure that their remote workforce is achieving their desired level of work/life balance. Here are some key methods to consider:
  • Take the Lead. For managers who oversee a remote team, they need to be the first to show that they prioritize employee work/life balance to the highest degree. The first thing managers should do when taking over a remote team is laying the foundation of how much they value work/life balance.
  • Prioritize Work/Life Balance. If managers can take the lead on this their employees are likely to follow in showing that they also care about work/life balance. This level of caring about self-care will result in a higher performing team and a higher engaged team. Managers and peers should also be considerate when scheduling any work-related tasks to ensure that they do not impede an employees’ ability to take time off. One useful method that managers can implement to ensure uninterrupted employee PTO is encouraging the use of email calendar invites, this allows for employees to send the team a calendar invite for the times and dates that they will be on PTO or OOTO (out of the office), this can help reduce scheduling conflicts and reduce the chances of employees working on their days off.
  • One-on-Ones. One-on-one discussions are common tools for employees and their managers to discuss performance, but managers can also take advantage of this opportunity to ask the employee questions about their work/life balance. This conversation can take many forms but asking the employee an open-ended question such as “are you taking your PTO as needed?” or “how do you feel you are balancing your personal life and work life?” can help create dialogue.
  • Listen. Managers should always be listening for indirect ques that employees need time off. While some employees will directly ask for time off or put in a request when they need it, other employees will not. In some cases, employees will mention to their manager that they have a desire to take time off but won’t directly ask for it. For example, during a one-on-one an employee might mention that they are excited for an upcoming wedding, but they won’t directly ask for the time off. At this point, the manager should ask the employee if they need to schedule time off and offer to assist the employee with the process if needed.
  • Partner with HR. No one person will ever know everything. However, your organizations HR department can help educate managers and employees on time off options. Most employees that I have helped throughout my career don’t even know that many organizations offer personal leave of absences, these can be extremely useful as they allow employees to take extended unpaid time off to fulfill some of their personal desires such as going on a cruise, visiting another country, attending religious events, or even just looking for time off to decompress.
  • Be Cognizant. Remote work is not “no work”. Managers need to understand that sometimes remote work can lead to employees not unplugging at the end of their shift and in many cases, they may overwork themselves. Managers can mitigate overworking employees by setting clear preestablished expectations on what is expected in the workday so that employees are not guessing and working longer hours because they are unsure of whether they fulfilled their daily duties or not. Another useful step managers can take to foster employee work/life balance is asking that employees shut their devices down and not log back on until their next scheduled work shift. The reality is the organization was likely their before you and they will likely be there after you are gone so they can survive without you.