How to maintain a healthy work-life balance while working remotely

Written by Rachel Reid, Consultant
Previously published by PSI Talent Management or Cubiks, prior to becoming Talogy.

This article about creating a successful work-life balance was originally published in August 2020. All content has been updated as of January 2022.

When working from home, work-life balance takes on a different meaning and can be more and more challenging to disconnect as a result. Research shows that employees who feel like they have a healthy work-life balance are more effective at work and experience less burnout. As companies and their employees continue embracing remote work, leaders need to help their teams find a solid balance.

Here are four ways to ensure your remote team continues to achieve a productive yet healthy work-life balance that you can effectively manage now and in the future.

1. Check in and be supportive

Remote work can often feel isolating. To keep your employees engaged and connected, check on them frequently. Do so informally both at the individual and group level to gauge the sentiment of your remote team. Instead of just asking how your remote workers are doing, try being more specific. Below are examples of questions that will provide you deeper insight into the performance of your remote teams:

  • What areas do you feel are going well for you right now?
  • Do you have the tools you need to succeed in your role?
  • In what areas do you need help currently?

Everyone has unique needs when working remotely. Learn how your employees are handling this environment and see if you can provide any extra support. Feeling supported in their role can help diminish any stress employees are experiencing.

2. Evaluate your remote team’s ability to be resilient

Remote work-life balance looks different for each of your employees, so how do you help them manage this change? Understanding your team members’ resilience – their capacity to adapt positively to pressure, setbacks, challenges, and changes to achieve peak performance – is a great place to start. There are many tools and resources that can help you identify this, such as using a team or individual assessment which measures the key components of resilience (e.g., optimism, adaptability, support seeking, etc.). You can then provide development opportunities to encourage your remote employees to grow in this area through coaching, webinars, or books.

3. Virtually partner up

One way to combat your team members from feeling disconnected is by creating a virtual mentorship program. Partner up employees and work with them to schedule opportunities to check-in, reflect on their performance, and discuss their professional goals. These meetings allow employees to discuss how they have been managing the remote work environment and creates the opportunity to discuss tools and resources that will help both parties learn and grow. No one should feel like they need to tackle stress alone, and a mentorship program is a great way to provide additional support to one another.

4. Adjust scheduling

Remember that not only are your remote employees working from home, but they are likely managing their children’s educational or daycare needs, providing care for a loved one, or balancing schedules with other members of their household. It can be difficult for employees to juggle their typical work schedule with these additional demands. As a manager, you can adjust team meeting times to work for your employees’ responsibilities at home or alternate the times. For example, one week have a team meeting that occurs in the morning, and the following week schedule the meeting in the afternoon. Everyone’s needs will be different, so make sure you provide support to your team and be flexible where possible.

While there is much that we can’t control right now, there are ways that leaders can better manage and support their remote teams. Remote collaboration takes a bit more effort in a virtual world, but will prove effective and successful when your employees feel valued, feel as if they have the necessary flexibility to navigate this way of working, and feel close (or as close as they can feel) to their managers and teams.

Leading remote teams: new trends and challenges for managers

Remote work is expected to continue to rise even after the recent pandemic subsides.

Three out of four CEOs recently surveyed indicated they will not bring all employees back on site (Gartner, 2020). With this shift, managers will need to understand how to work remotely themselves, as well as how to lead a team with less structure, fewer opportunities to communicate, and collaboration enabled by technology.

Managers are uniquely positioned to help people realize the benefits of remote work by adapting their leadership style to mitigate the potential pitfalls.

This whitepaper takes a closer look at how organizations can focus on hiring and developing managers with the key competencies proven to be most necessary for success when leading highly efficient and productive remote teams.

  • Agility: how managers respond to change and help people handle challenges independently
  • Achievement: how managers adapt their work practices to drive action and ensure accountability
  • Affiliation: how managers overcome the physical distance required to coach others and build a supportive team
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