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News article5 May 2022European Labour Authority, Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion

How to promote a good work-life balance for employees post-COVID-19

When the office becomes part of the home, the distinction between work and personal time can become unclear. Here, we give our top advice for employers on fostering a healthy work-life balance for employees post-COVID-19.

How to promote a good work-life balance for employees post-COVID19

In the wake of the forced shift towards hybrid and remote work brought about by COVID-19, working from home has become the new normal for many. Often, the benefits outweigh the negatives: no commuting costs, more independence, and a focus on productivity over working hours. All this without sitting in traffic or paying for public transport can add hours to employees’ free time, without compromising their productivity.

Despite this, it is important to remember that working from home can also have potentially negative impacts. By following these tips, you can help your employees to enjoy the benefits of remote work, without jeopardising their work-life balance.

  1. Lead by example

Many employees feel expected to work longer hours when they are working from home. This is often because they do not have a set time to ‘leave’, as they would in the office. It is therefore important for those in leadership positions to lead by example and finish work at an appropriate time. This will encourage other employees to do the same and conclude their tasks when the day is over. You can also establish and communicate specific times when your employees should and should not be sending e-mails, and suggest that if they do work outside of these hours, they use delayed delivery in order to respect the working hours of their colleagues. Establishing appropriate boundaries and respecting their own and each other’s personal time in this way will help them to avoid burnout in the long term.

  1. Provide appropriate equipment

If an employee uses their private computer for work, they may find it hard to keep personal and work activities separate (e.g. continuing to receive work-related notifications outside of working hours). This can impact their ability to ‘tune out’ and relax. To avoid issues like this, ensure that you provide laptops and other key pieces of professional equipment (e.g. headset, mouse, keyboard) for all employees. 

In 2021, the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) found that 48% of surveyed employees who worked from a sofa or bedroom said they had musculoskeletal problems. Alongside providing the required technical equipment, consider if you may be able to provide other equipment to help avoid these issues – a laptop stand to keep the screen at eye level, a chair or a desk, for example. This will help employees to maintain good posture when working at home, reducing their chance of injury.

  1. Create a work/home divide

Many people who work from home do not have the space for a dedicated home office, and are working out of their bedrooms or living rooms. This lack of a distinct workspace can have real psychological impacts. Of the employees surveyed for the RSPH report, 56% of those who worked from home found it hard to switch off after work.

To help create a more concrete work/home divide, encourage employees to put away their work equipment (where possible) when they have finished work. This will create the physical and psychological space they need to unwind and prepare for the next day. Building on this, you can also organise dedicated training on establishing a healthy home working environment in order to help them adapt effectively to working in the post-COVID-19 era.

  1. Offer flexible working hours

A flexible working day (with essential core hours and the freedom to choose when to start and finish) can help employees to balance commitments outside of work, such as childcare or health appointments. This approach can also boost productivity in multinational companies, as employees working in different time zones can plan to overlap their hours without consistently working overtime or overnight and risking burning out.

For more on ways to support employees after COVID-19, see our article on ‘How to foster wellbeing among employees post COVID-19’.

 

Related links:

The mental and physical health impacts of home working during COVID-19

How to foster wellbeing among employees post COVID-19

 

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