There is no doubt the coronavirus pandemic has changed the way that New Zealanders work. Before the pandemic hit, less than 1 in 4 worked remotely. One year later, that figure is over 40% and growing.
While working remotely has many perks, it has disrupted work-life balance. Many remote employees are struggling to separate their work responsibilities from home life. The lines are blurred and it is hard to step away from the laptop.
It is time for employers to take a fresh look at promoting work-life balance. Read on for a guide to protecting work-life balance in the new normal. Explore unconventional ways to promote work-life balance for employees working remotely.
Work-Life Balance Is Eroding
Before the pandemic, many believed that remote employees are distracted and may abuse the privilege. Recent surveys conclude that this assumption is false.
In fact, roughly 70% of remote workers report that they are working on weekends. Nearly 50% of remote workers say they are working more than they did before.
Prior to COVID-19, employees punched out and left their job at the door. Now, they are responding to e-mails at late hours and responding to action items on the weekend.
This is unsustainable and ultimately leads to job dissatisfaction and burnout. In response, employers are implementing strategies to promote their employees’ physical and mental health.
Believe it or not, many employees do not use their annual leave days. The COVID-19 pandemic made this surprising fact even more prevalent.
A recent survey concluded that nearly 30% of workers are planning to take fewer days off in the summer. In addition, nearly 40% are saving their vacation time and hope to use it later. Some may think it is good that their employees are always on the clock. In the new normal, many employees are taking their laptops and working during their holiday.
However, more companies are realising the benefits of allowing their employees to unplug. They come back from holiday satisfied and recharged. The end result is sustained productivity and positive results.
So what are some unconventional ways to encourage annual leave be taken? Many companies employ a use or lose model where employees cannot carry over saved leave time to the next year. This essentially forces them to go on holiday.
Another approach is to completely shut down operations during the year. This approach basically amounts to a forced vacation. Some companies find success doing this around Christmas and the New Year.
Lastly, one popular idea is to have company-wide retreats. You can sneak a brief training or presentation into the daily agenda. The primary focus, however, is to unwind and focus on team building.
Whether you are using Microsoft Teams, Webex or Zoom, video conference calls are now part of the new normal thanks to the pandemic. With remote working so prevalent, businesses have turned to video conferences for their regular team meetings and sales presentations.
Staying on a video call for long hours is a burden. Many employees are restricted to their workspace to stay on camera.
Some of the biggest names in business are saying enough is enough. For example, Citigroup globally recently slapped a ban on Zoom calls every Friday. The goal here is to provide relief for employees suffering from fatigue.
Without video meetings scheduled, employees can take a breath heading into the weekend. They can use this meeting-free time to work on physical and mental health. An hour off camera is perfect to fit in exercise or a meditation session.
Many companies stubbornly hold onto work. They believe their employees complete tasks most efficiently and at the cheapest cost.
The truth is that your company can improve overall work-life balance by delegating work out. Take injury management as a perfect example.
Instead of bogging your staff down with unanticipated claims management, a third-party can do it for cheaper. Case studies show that outsourcing personal injury claims can significantly reduce costs and get employees back to work faster.
With your employees on the edge, it is time to consider these opportunities. By outsourcing, your workers can use this freed-up time to focus on physical and mental health.
In the new normal, it is not easy to get the team together to develop chemistry. This does not mean that you should abandon team building. Instead, it is time to get creative and think of alternate ways to make work fun.
Family game nights are one way to simultaneously promote work-life balance and team building. There are software apps like House Party where families can connect and play games together. You can spice it up by offering the winner a paid day off.
Including his or her family in the event allows for precious family time. This downtime relieves some work pressure and helps co-workers get to know each other. There are many benefits to merging work-life initiatives and team-building events.
Traditional 9 to 5 schedules are a casualty of the new normal. Fixed work schedules no longer make sense. Instead, the focus is turning to output-oriented work models.
The maxi-flex schedule is unconventional and rare in New Zealand but things are changing. Maxi-flex is short for maximum flexibility. It allows workers to reach 40 hours however they see fit.
For instance, the employee can start at 9 am every day and leave at 3 pm. The employee can now pick up their child from the bus stop or daycare. Then, the employee puts in the final two hours from 5 pm to 7 pm. Alternately, 10 hours a day for 4 days, allows for 3-day weekends or a day of in the middle of the week.
This flexibility helps the employee reduce their personal costs. They no longer have to pay for after-school care.
Also, the maxi-flex schedule allows for more family time. The employee is no longer outsourcing their parental duties.
Protecting Work-Life Balance Is Crucial to Company Success
Most New Zealand business recognise the changing landscape of managing work-life balance. For remote employees, there is the need to acknowledge and address, that there is often little separation between work and their personal life.
Now is the time to act. Taking steps like banning video calls on Friday or finding indirect ways to encourage annual leave are critical.
Another successful strategy is outsourcing work when it's feasible.
If you want to learn about protecting work-life balance by hiring injury management specialists, contact us today to speak with a professional.