By Guest Blogger Rebecca Korsen
Life as we know it is constantly changing, and with COVID-19, these changes have become downright disruptive. In this new “normal,” many employees are confined to working at home, alongside other members of their household. And while remote work has been underway for almost 6 months, workers now have to juggle the back to school season. Whether school is virtual, hybrid or fully in person, parents are devoting more time to helping their kids navigate schoolwork. Just when employees may have felt like they were figuring out the pandemic lay of the land, restrictions change (either loosening or getting tighter) or they have to manage a confusing and stressful new set of challenges. Bottom line: within months, life has reached new levels of chaos.
Picture the impact for your employees (and you): the usual quiet spaces are full of background noise, making something as simple as a conference call a tall order. If Zoom calls had a stress meter for participants, there would be off-the-charts readings. So, what can your employees do to bring some order to the chaos? Is there anything you can suggest to help strike a better (if not healthy) work-life balance during this pandemic? Check out 3 tips that might just help:
1: Take a true break
Encourage employees to take work breaks throughout the day. Maybe it’s as easy as going for a short walk around the neighborhood, exercising, or simply getting a breath of fresh air. During this time, remind them to avoid answering work emails and just take time for themselves, no matter how short. If it’s a lunch break, remember the benefit of eating healthy. It’s easy to load up on caffeine and processed snacks, but fruits and vegetables are a better option for long days sitting at a desk or juggling kids’ classes. With a true break, employees will assuredly step back into their makeshift home office cool, calm and collected.
2: Cross the finish line
The workday must end at some point, so help employees cross the finish line. Keep in mind that once the workday is finished, for some, it might be just beginning. Employees might move from work to the “second shift” if they have kids or parents to care for. To address this, employers might consider instituting some policies around no meetings before 8AM, no meetings during lunch time, or no meetings after 5PM. There may need to be exceptions to these policies, especially if different time zones drive meeting times. But putting some limitations on how long the official workday lasts can ease the burden employees feel. And it may promote another good tip: getting at least 7-8 hours of restful sleep. Leaders can model the way by not sending off-hours messages, enabling employees to turn off their technology at least one hour before bed. By drawing the finish line, you’ll be helping your team wake up the next day ready to tackle the day’s challenges.
3: Preserve time with family and/or friends
These days, work hours blend into non-work hours—and finding or taking time to enjoy family or friends is more difficult. Allotting dedicated time to family and/or friends is important to create some boundaries. Encourage employees to plan weekend events, activities, or day trips. – Time away from work with those who matter most—even without traveling—can give employees much needed rest and relaxation.
By offering these 3 tips, leaders will demonstrate that they recognize the chaos employees are facing—and they may just yield positive results for their teams. Life and work-life as we know it for employees and employers will become less stressful and much more pleasant. Employees will be happier, productive, and will be better equipped to manage work and stress during these chaotic times.
If your company needs helping striking the right balance to keep employees engaged and productive, give us a call. We can help you send the right message (at the right time and format!) to let employees know you care about their well being as they strive to function in this chaotic work environment.
2 Replies to “Work and Home: the new Cauldron of Chaos: Three tips to help you and your employees survive”
Very insightful blog. The mindset I’ve adopted is to treat the “new” normal like the old in terms of segmenting the day. The cadence of going back/forth to the office, engaging in certain routines while in the office, and then being at home involved clear blocks of time throughout the day. Create new blocks and be as disciplined as you previously were in preserving the integrity of your segments.
Thank you, Michael. And we agree. The time blocks and discipline give us a much needed sense of control.
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