In today’s always-on digital world, the workday often blurs into our personal lives. Finding the right work-life balance isn’t just nice to have, it could be the difference between life and death. Working long hours increases the risk of atrial fibrillation. The stress associated with it also can contribute to conditions including osteoporosis and immunosuppression as well as a higher risk of anxiety and depression.
Work-life balance isn’t just about finding a great job; it’s also about setting boundaries and integrating wellness into your daily routine. Even a great job can be dangerous if not managed properly. Technology has been touted as the solution to solve all of our work issues, but in today’s mobile and digital world, it can often create more problems than solutions. In fact, according to research conducted in 2012, 70% of the business executives surveyed said that “technology brings work into their personal lives.”
At our company, we use technology but acknowledge that it isn’t a silver bullet to solve everything. Technology is woven into our overall approach for investing in our employees so that they avoid burnout. Here are three ways that technology can help staff find work-life balance.
1. Improving Productivity
We have offices all over the world, so it can be challenging to organize and communicate with all of our employees in different time zones. Cloud technology has really transformed business, so documents we’re working on in Los Angeles and Austin, Texas, are easily accessible in the Philippines or other locations.
Google has simplified the integration of email, document collaboration, video conferencing, instant messaging and more. With these tools, we can coordinate schedules, set out-of-office notifications and share work projects. This helps us work together more effectively over long distances. Better collaboration improves our overall productivity, allowing us to get more done during normal work hours.
There are a million apps out there that promise productivity and help managing schedules, but use them wisely. There is no one app to rule them all. Picking the right productivity app for your company can actually empower employees to make the most of their time so they can get work done better and faster, which allows them more time to live their own lives.
2. Creating Flexibility
Technology gives us the flexibility to allow employees to work remotely when needed. Struggles with work-life balance often center around being stuck in a cubicle or office for most of the day, but working remotely can empower employees with the flexibility to be productive at work while also managing their personal lives. We use tools like Zoom and Google Hangouts to help us communicate, so that staff who are working remotely can be part of the office culture and join impromptu meetings but also have the flexibility to be at home or in a different office.
Choose technology that can provide transparency and bridge communication with team members. One of the communication tools that many businesses find useful is Slack, which serves as a hub for connecting various activities across different teams and departments. The main thing to be mindful of when evaluating technology is that it contributes to cooperation and overcomes your business’s unique challenges, such as ensuring that everyone is working together no matter where they’re located.
Setting rules and boundaries for communication tools can be important for work-life balance because many of these tools can have the unintended impact of allowing work to bleed into every aspect of an employee’s life. Set parameters for work schedules, and communicate with managers and team members when work hours shift due to personal conflicts.
3. Getting Centered
We see our team as one of our greatest resources, so we provide them with wellness offerings like the Headspace app. This app helps our employees feel balanced through mindfulness meditation, which can positively impact mental and physical health. They can use the app at work or at home.
There are many apps that promise to offer the keys to wellness and getting centered. Prioritize the one that’s best for your company and employees. We chose Headspace because we wanted to promote wellness and mindfulness throughout our organization. This isn’t just about exercising or eating right but being able to take a few moments out of each day whether in the office or at home to focus on finding peace. It’s something that has been so important to me personally.
Employers can help employees get centered in other ways, too, such as encouraging them to take breaks from their computers and other devices throughout the day, get outside for a change of setting and focus on their passions, such as loved ones or hobbies. This can be systematized through something as easy as setting reminders using your office’s calendar app.
Technology As A Tool
Technology in and of itself is neither good nor bad. How we use it can determine whether it can help or hinder work-life balance. We live in a digital world, where it’s easier than ever to communicate beyond the office walls. I believe that the onus is on the employer to create a culture that can support employees’ work-life balance. We, as employers, can set an example for our staff. We can create workplace cultures that value personal time, don’t expect everyone to be accessible and available all the time and ensure that everyone has time to pursue their own personal passions. Employees can then ensure that they’re acting responsibly and communicating struggles with managers.
Technology can help keep your employees productive, connected and centered. Remember: Your team is your greatest resource.