How can you find and maintain a successful balance between the work and life of your staff? How can you match efficient business operations with the often chaotic nature of our personal lives? These questions have nagged management teams for decades, and while there isn’t a perfect “one size fits all” solution, there are several goals a business can strive to achieve in order to create a healthy and productive balance between labour and leisure.
Company culture is more than just ping-pong tables and casual Fridays.
A specific cultural outlook should be an intrinsic component to any business’ identity. Culture is what ties groups together, forges links between employees and leaders, and promotes a unified drive and purpose. It is critical for staff to be able to define their culture and understand how it manifests in the office and beyond.
Ultimately, the crucial delineation is between perks and values. Pool tables are fun, but values like providing extended parental leave, opening avenues for communication and support, or a commitment to transparency are but a few examples of cultural beacons that serve to illuminate the path to a more rewarding work environment.
The Trouble with Telecommuting
Telecommuting is a practice that is being increasingly integrated into the structure of many businesses and raises concerns about the slim boundary between comfort and productivity. While certainly providing greater flexibility for employees, telecommuting can also generate serious issues that may not be immediately apparent.
A recent study indicates that working from home can actually lead employees to work longer hours than their non-telecommuting colleagues – work that in some cases is completed without pay. The study concluded that this behaviour may result from employees feeling a need to prove how productive they are by working more hours from home, adding extra stress to their lives. Telecommuting can also hamper the collective cohesion of teams and create unnecessary communication roadblocks by having staff isolated in separate physical spaces away from the office. Even so, telecommuting should not be perceived as wholly detrimental.
One company that has actively worked to seize upon the advantages of telecommuting is the office supplier Staples. Tom Heisroth, the senior vice president of Staples Advantage (the business contracting component of Staples) stated that: “Telecommuting can help achieve balance between workplace demands and life obligations, but being successful isn’t as simple as just sending employees home with their laptops.” Staples’ solution has been to implement a six-part plan centred on the core tenets of connectivity, network access, data backups and security, ergonomics, storage, and sustainability. By surveying employees and responding to their needs, Staples has maximized the benefits of telecommuting.
Though the pace of our world is constantly quickening and the expectations placed upon businesses are rapidly increasing, companies must remain grounded, invested in the pursuit of success, and continually striving to improve the precarious balance between work and life. Envisioning a unique workplace culture and striving to provide flexibility to employees are two important pillars in the pantheon of progress.
This topic is very important to the Business Sherpa Group, both for our clients and for our internal team. We encourage our highly virtualized associates to carve out the work-life balance that fits them as individuals, and then provide opportunities to connect with a community that aligns with their values. Read more about the model here.