There’s nothing like a summer holiday to remind you just how important it is to take a break from work. Often we get so caught up in the busy pace of the office that we forget how to unplug, only giving ourselves permission to disconnect when we’ve activated our ‘out of office’. Your workplace culture goes hand-in-hand with your office design in promoting wellbeing and that coveted work/life balance.
We can easily slip into constantly being ‘on’ and tuned into our work, whether we realise it or not. During the week, we spend more time at work and commuting than we do at home (and even when we’ve left the office, we’re still guilty of checking emails on our mobiles!). Then the weekend rolls in and we’re bogged down with chores when we should be relaxing and connecting with loved ones. It’s no wonder that Monday’s alarm is always too soon!
When we feel that ‘real life’ only begins after 5pm, it can make it even more difficult to cope with the day-to-day grind. Instead of hovering at the edge of a burnout, wouldn’t it be easier if we created workplaces that promoted balance?
The price of loyalty
Creating an environment where people feel comfortable balancing their life and work commitments leads to happier employees - and happy employees are loyal. And while you can’t buy loyalty from your staff, you can add extra ‘value’ to their employment by being mindful of their personal needs.
Everybody wants to be appreciated for the work they do. Research has shown that people would rather work in a happy environment where they are trusted and respected than earn a higher salary elsewhere. In today’s world, most of us would sacrifice a couple pounds each month to be somewhere that helps us live a more balanced life.
Earning the loyalty of your employees won’t cost a penny and the results will save you loads - just imagine a workplace with very little voluntary turnover, decreased absenteeism, high levels of productivity and engaged staff. The more you give of your trust, the more you’ll get back in quantity and quality of work!
Cultivating the culture
The first step to creating the culture of flexibility is to do away with any notions presenteeism. Judging performance on output rather than presence means that your employees can pop out during the day without feeling pressure.
If your performance metrics focus on KPIs, your employees can create their own rules of engagement within the agreed boundaries. My boss knows that even if I’m not at my desk, I’ll complete my weekly reports on time because he trusts me and that’s one of my KPIs. He knows I’ll show up for meetings and be in touch when I’m out and about, so why shouldn’t he trust me? And I know that if I can manage my time well, I can carve out time for a trip to the dentist or the bank.
Working effectively is way more important than clocking hours. It’s been proven that a four day week can be just as productive as a regular Monday-to-Friday schedule!
Vote for independence
We talk about autonomy a lot at Morgan Lovell. Flexible working is a working style that suits an individual employee’s needs which may differ from a company’s norm. The most common examples are flexible start and finish times or working from home on certain days. By law, all employees have the right to request flexible working – not just parents and carers.
If you have a flexible working arrangement with your employees to help them achieve more work-life balance, they should be able to work practically anywhere. This is where agile working comes in. Agile working offers employees maximum flexibility and minimum constraints on how, when and where they work.
It’s no surprise that a laptop, mobile, remote access to the company’s network and a good WiFi connection are non-negotiable for making this work. If your staff have this, they can easily work from a cafe or at home allowing them to fit in that pesky MOT or sign for an important delivery.
Being generous is proven to benefit your bottom line. If you respect your employees and trust that they won’t take advantage of you, they’ll be loyal and respect the boundaries of their work-life balance in return.