How to Create Work-Life Barriers With Remote Employees

Father working from home using a laptop device while looking at his two children playing in the living room.

It’s no secret that the coronavirus pandemic has forced many businesses into a somewhat unpredictable schedule of remote work. While working from home can provide many benefits for employees, it also has created some unpredicted disadvantages. In the past, remote work was often seen as a way to improve work-life balance. However, reality creates a much different picture. Without clearly defined lines between work and home, remote work has created a very blurry line between work and personal time. This unanticipated erosion of work-life balance isn’t only affecting employees and their families, it’s creating negative situations for businesses as well.

5 Ways Remote Work and Poor Work-Life Balance Negatively Impacts Your Business

In theory, remote work should provide employees with more time and less stress to reach both work and personal goals. Unfortunately, the distractions of work and life get jumbled together into a multi-tasking nightmare that often makes both employees and businesses less efficient and more time-strapped than ever. Without the barriers of the physical office, many businesses are suffering from these disadvantages due to remote work.

  • Reduced Employee Engagement: Lack of communication, disconnect from company leaders, and poor quality online tools lead to unproductive workdays and a lack of engagement for most workers. Simply put, the efforts workers are putting in don’t yield the same results as they’re accustomed to, so employees quickly disengage from company tasks.
  • Time Wasted on Unproductive Gatherings: Communication within a workspace is vastly different from online communication and dreaded Zoom meetings. Aimless meetings that replace the office water cooler communication require employees to put in “work time” without getting results. This wasted time can mean employees spend more time catching up on necessary tasks later.
  • Lax Security Practices: Working from home means employees have a variety of devices to check-in whenever and however they want. Checking into work emails while spending personal time on a smartphone or personal laptop may feel like multi-tasking, these items may lack the security practices of devices used strictly for work purposes.
  • Distractions: For many employees, working around family members is an expected distraction. However, the opposite is also true. The majority of employees who work from home experience difficulty turning away from work to fully concentrate on life. This leaves workers in a state of constant distraction for all tasks.
  • Employee Burnout: In the past, reasons for employee burnout were often related to long commutes and office hours with no flexibility. Still, vacations and weekends were a reprieve allowing workers to recharge and return refreshed. Remote workers who fail to erect barriers between work and personal time rarely take any time off. With no vacations and 7 day work weeks, employees quickly experience a new kind of burnout related directly to remote work.

Creating Healthy Work-Life Barriers for Your Employees

Remote work is no longer a perk, it’s a necessity. Therefore, business leaders need to find ways to adapt to the ways employees are affected by working from home. Creating a better work-life balance for remote workers is likely to be more challenging than ever. After all, your employees are struggling with a variety of personal responsibilities that many working Americans haven’t seen in the past. Luckily, there are some practices you can establish to help your employees, and your business as a whole, create a healthy balance.

Establish Dependable Communication

Remote workers should be provided with quality equipment to efficiently complete company tasks. When employees have the equipment they need, it’s time to set up a dependable work schedule. In the office and at home, lack of communication is one of the biggest factors driving employee burnout and disengagement. In fact, 1 in 10 remote workers cited frequent communication as one of the most useful ways for a company to show support for a remote work transition. Take these steps to create a dependable business communication schedule for your remote employees:

  • Schedule meetings within traditional business hours.
  • Create new avenues of communication for collaborative projects and water cooler communication between co-workers.
  • Schedule a weekly or bi-weekly one-on-one meeting with each remote employee.
  • Avoid scheduling meetings without a specific purpose. Instead, schedule short check-ins for periods with lower activity.
Woman working from home and showing some distraction while using a laptop device while holding a pencil in one hand and assessing tasks on paper while holding her mobile phone on her other hand.

Prohibit the Use of Personal Devices for Company Tasks

While contacting your best employees anytime you want is convenient, it’s not good security practice. It’s easy for business leaders and employees to take advantage of the convenience of smartphones and other personal devices. However, it’s vital to note that these devices rarely have the same security setup as company equipment. Cyber-attackers have identified remote workers as a weak link in security systems, leading to increased cyberattacks during the pandemic. 

It’s common practice for many business leaders to require message forwarding for company correspondence to personal devices. Avoid this practice by creating check-in times or scheduling communication with remote workers. Take your security a step further by requiring all employees to complete work tasks on company equipment with the proper security and firewalls.

Connect Outside of Zoom Meetings

A healthy workplace often means employees have time to nourish social relationships with co-workers that go beyond work projects. Business leaders with healthy employee relationships often reach out to workers as well. These interactions allow all employees to foster better working relationships and avoid work overload.

Building these connections within a remote workforce requires a little extra creativity, but it is possible. Create communication spaces that allow workers to connect and group memos to be posted. Take the time for a personal check-in with your employees when they’re not under strict deadlines. Talking privately with each employee about personal hurdles and finding unique remote work solutions can improve engagement and eliminate burnout.

Encourage Time Off

Employees facing 7-day work weeks will quickly experience burnout, but it’s common for those working remotely to feel like they should be on call 24-7. While the company may be experiencing difficulties adjusting to new remote scheduling, avoid the temptation to contact employees during personal time. Encourage employees to unplug from work during evenings, weekends, or even for a holiday or relaxed vacation. Allowing employees to take personal time will provide businesses with refreshed workers ready to tackle new projects as they arise,

Creating work-life barriers provides a healthier remote workforce and a more productive company. While it might be difficult to help remote employees adjust to changes within their own home, the proper technology can help. E&E Tech is a client-focused I.T. company dedicated to finding tailored solutions to fit your company’s needs. Get in touch with our experienced team to learn more about how we can help your company transition to a healthier remote work schedule.

With many years of experience in entrepreneurship, management, business planning, financial analysis, network engineering, operations and decision analysis, Edward has the experience needed to quickly understand entrepreneurs’ businesses and craft the most suitable solutions.

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