The Fundamental Approach to Work-life Balance at Your Company

The Fundamental Approach to Work-life Balance at Your Company

Setting the work-life balance when working from home

I worked at Patagonia for over 6 years and now manage a team that works from home from all over the western hemisphere, so thinking about and acting on ideas of work-life balance is foremost in my mind.

People write books on this subject and intensely analyze it in some management schools, so don’t expect a short article to provide you with all the secrets. However, there is one piece that you cannot succeed without:

The proper mindset.

First, you and your managers must give up on the notion that a productive business day means every employee sitting at a desk for 8+ hours, staring at a screen. If you spy on your employees (don’t do this) you will find situations where your most productive people spend a lot of time doing things that you wouldn’t consider productive: surfing the internet, chatting to co-workers, balancing their checkbook, sitting on hold with the credit card company, etc. Your traditional manager’s brain will immediately think that if only you could stop them from doing those things, productivity will increase further. It won’t.

If you expect people to work hard for a company that they don’t own as if it were part of their life, then you need to allow them to make it part of their life in their own way. For some people this means coming in at 10am and leaving at 7pm. For other it means leaving for a 2 hour lunch break to go run 10 miles or hit the surf and shower before coming back. For most, it means doing things at work that you would consider tasks they should only do at home. And of course, there’s flex time for volunteering, attending a child’s school events, and on and on and on.
The trick is to let good employees decide what works for them and trust them to complete the required work to meet their department’s goals (did you remember to declare reasonable goals for your teams?).

In one sentence…

Judge your employees productivity not by how busy they appear but by how well they are meeting or positively affecting your company’s goals.
If you apply that philosophy with an open mind, you will reach the goal you stated.

Of course, many other factors feed into this, especially finding and keeping employees who work well in such an environment. It’s no surprise that not everyone does and I will cover parts of that topic in upcoming articles.

Past readers suggest going to this article next:
The top 5 ways to keep your remote team in sync

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Gregory Sherrow

Entrepreneur, nutjob runner and remote employment advisor/trainer for individuals, managers and entrepreneurs.

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