A trend that majority HR managers have predicted for 2021 is the growth of a remote and hybrid workforce. A Times Job survey suggests that 42% Indian firms are likely to continue remote working for one more year. And 23% firms are likely to continue with a virtual workforce for another 5 years. This statistic sets the context that remote working is here for the long haul. While remote working offers certain advantages for an organization; flexible work hours and reduced costs, it also brings a set of challenges for employees; reduced human interaction, constant availability and blurred personal and professional lines. All of this can have an impact on employee well-being and the company’s bottom line. As the saying goes ‘A happy workforce is a productive workforce’, is it crucial for organizations to help employees achieve the perfect work-life balance.
Work-Life Balance In 2021
As per a 2020 report, 7/10 employees have reported facing mental health issues during the ongoing pandemic. 88% employees have faced stress in the initial few weeks and 62% have complained losing one productive hour every day. This highlights the degree of burnout that employees are facing while working remotely. One of the factors resulting in such a high degree of burnout is attributed to constantly being “available” and the lack of down-time away from work. If left unchecked, burnout can cause irritability, fatigue and mental stress in employees, resulting in lower productivity and higher number of sick leaves being availed. If organizations are looking to retain their employees, work life balance in 2021 is no longer a “privilege” but a necessity.
Setting Clear-Cut Boundaries
With the growing rise of a remote workforce, a common grouse most employees face is micro management in the absence of an in-person working experience. Checking in to see if an employee is facing a roadblock while working is okay. But seeking constant updates is not as it creates a sense of disillusionment. Instead managers must learn to trust its workforce and allow employees to take their own call and plan their day as per their personal and professional priorities. By letting them do so, will not only motivate employees but also engage them and ensure a work-life balance.
What Organizations Can Do
In the era of remote working with its “always on culture”, employees often struggle to keep their work separate from their personal lives. This is why businesses must drive certain initiatives which help employees strike the right chord between both spheres of their lives. To begin with, managers must incorporate a strict no-call/e-mail policy after business hours, on weekends and on leaves. This allows employees to disconnect mentally even, giving them the required ‘me time’. Leaders should conduct virtual workshops or team building exercises that allows employees to de-stress and think beyond work. These sessions should go beyond the cliche “zoom party” and be actual interactive video calls wherein employees are actively engaged with each other. Moreover, management and leaders must conduct periodic surveys to understand the pulse of its workforce and basis the input received, drive new policies like ‘no work Friday’ or ‘no meeting day’. The thought behind such initiatives is to encourage employees to interact with each other, and more importantly, enjoy the people-first work culture that promotes a work-life balance.
Ensuring work- life balance has always been a challenge for most working individuals and organizations alike. However in 2021, this need has further gotten amplified with a distanced workforce and the after-effects of the pandemic and lockdown. With remote and hybrid working on the rise, and a decline in employees' mental well- being, businesses must realize now is the time to act to ensure a happy and healthy workforce.