The global shift to remote work has made employers more aware of the need for proactive work-life balance management in their companies, especially as boundaries between work and life have begun to blur.
Defining and Offering Flexible and Remote Working
Work-life balance means different things for different people. An employer's goal is to keep employees motivated and avoid burnout to ensure that the job gets done. We work with the team to help them manage their work better so they can have more time to manage their life.
At Osome, our employees mainly work from home and sometimes drop into the office for meetings. We have implemented flexible schedules, which allow employees to choose when to begin and end their workday, and how long to break for, within limits set by management. Therefore, our team can decide how to best manage their productivity and stress. Some take a longer lunch break to run or take a yoga session. Some start their days at 11 am and end at 8 pm. Researchers from Stanford University found that giving employees more control over their hours could significantly reduce employee turnover.
We also applied for and have been received the Work-Life Grant given out by Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower. This enables us to upgrade business processes and maximize productivity by procuring IT solutions and equipment.
Setting Up the Right Structures to Check-in With Each Team Member
The company needs to have a top-down approach to work-life balance and leaders have to look out for impending burnout and prevent it. Burnout can frequently go under the radar. When you are in a physical office, you can check in face-to-face or you can monitor the time an employee spends in the office to see if they are working too much. These methods are not available in a remote-work set up. How do you monitor and react before burnout happens? It's a serious challenge so you'll need to set up alternative tech solutions to compensate for lack of face to face office interaction. If companies want to keep their employees happy, they’ll need to invest time and resources in figuring this challenge out should be working on this.
More tools are popping, providing appropriate technology to help employees with day-to-day tasks, like Slack, Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, Miro, Notion and so on. By choosing the right technology tools, staff can become more organised and productive. Collaborative tools can also help staff feel less overwhelmed.
We encourage our employees to open up to their Team Leads through different methods like check-in calls twice a week, monthly surveys and an anonymous Menti discussion board at the end of our All-Hands calls. This helps us gather honest feedback, react to it and implement changes to help our team better manage the workload. At the very least voicing feelings of stress and having them acknowledged helps them employees deal with the work a bit better. As a result, we see that our team is more vocal and honest about how they are doing. Generally, the feedback collected through these tools has been positive with many saying they are more effective at home. We have found that having a Work-From-Home set up can actually raise employee productivity if managed properly.
Using AI To Help Create More Meaningful Work for Employees
Every company’s peak and lull periods differ depending on business operations. In a startup environment, there are frequently multiple opportunities and tasks to choose from at the same time and team members can start feeling overwhelmed. We’re automating the boring, labour intensive and low value add parts of work through Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. This is also one megatrend that we see emerging. At Osome we want our team to spend time on meaningful and complex tasks that will add value to themselves and to our clients. Doing meaningful work makes employees more excited about their jobs, more productive and creates a better atmosphere in the company. We want to keep implementing these conditions at Osome.
Building a culture that places importance on Work-Life Balance in the company is a constant work-in-progress. There is always more that we can do to improve the situation, but it is a marathon, not a sprint. We will definitely keep looking into it.
Work-Life Balance Tips for Employers & Entrepreneurs
Take it seriously from the beginning
It’s easy to ignore and disregard Work-Life balance in your company. However once you do ignore it, you might run into problems later on. You might create a culture in the team that is negative. Think about it sooner rather than as team happiness means prosperity for the business.
Get staff on-board and understanding work-life balance upon hiring
Set expectations from the beginning of what the company means by work-life balance. If you build a reputation for horrible work-life balance there will be spillover effects within the team.
Find alternatives to the traditional in-office methods
You cannot easily check in with a team member working from home as you don’t meet face to face in the office. Judging workload by time spent in the office also becomes irrelevant. Adopting new technologies and proactive solutions can help keep in touch with the team, locate and solve issues before they become a serious problem.