In a rapidly evolving world, modern life is becoming more and more challenging, uncertain and complex to manage. How we work, rest and play has changed considerably over the years, and even more so during the COVID-19 pandemic. Indeed, the pandemic has totally reshaped the concept of work-life balance and transformed the way we live.
With employers and employees alike experiencing rapid change and stress, it has become paramount for companies to offer more inclusive, empathetic and supportive working set-ups. Companies have also had to become more flexible about where and when employees can work. It’s no longer just a question of time and money; it’s about addressing mental health matters and achieving work-life balance.
Recently, many companies have had no choice but to put employees on compulsory leave or have them work from home, which has blurred work-life boundaries. Even though we are slowly returning to “normal”, there is talk of hybrid working (a model that allows people to work both in the office and remotely) being the new paradigm for the future.
So, the burning question is this: how can digital tools help employees sustainably manage both professional and private goals by ensuring effective work-life balance in hybrid working situations?
Technology: a work-life balance asset
While working remotely depends strongly on selecting secure technology that allows employees to work while complying with internal and external regulations, it’s equally important to invest in tools that help employees achieve a healthy work-life balance. Flexible working hours and relaxation rooms, for instance, have already been embraced by most offices. However, more digital-oriented solutions should be implemented to maintain the same work-life balance when working remotely. Such tools pave the way for enhanced communication, effective schedule management and optimal productivity.
Communication is the key to every organization’s success. That’s why companies are leveraging more and more digital solutions. Communication tools capitalize on asynchronous communication (information exchange independent of time) which, first and foremost, increases productivity by reducing meeting interruptions and promoting high-quality discussions. These tools also enable us to hierarchize and balance employees’ synchronous (real-time conversations) and asynchronous communication.
Apart from the most common way of sending direct messages to a team or team member, conversations can be further categorized into channels – by team, project or clients. These tools enable employees to easily track and respond according to their schedules and to conversations that are relevant to them. The result? More focused and effective communication. Moreover, it reduces the risk of being disrupted and distracted by irrelevant conversations.
Streamlining for success
At a time where most people are working from home, companies must figure out how to effectively manage projects and employees from a distance. Some of the concerns around remote working include project progress tracking, communication within teams and unstructured working schedules.
That’s where collective scheduling tools come into the equation. With access to every team member’s schedule, teams and managers can get an overview of availability, time-off requests, vacation days, business meetings and personal appointments. Collective scheduling enables employees to organize their personal and professional lives while constantly being in the loop on other team members’ schedules. This is definitely a plus for parents struggling to juggle both family and work responsibilities.
Defining boundaries between an employee’s professional and personal lives helps to fuel productivity and enhance work quality. To ensure productivity and efficient ways of working, certain tools give weekly reports on employees’ use of digital devices. These tools track productivity by measuring the time spent on certain applications and websites.
Nurturing the mind
Various features have also been put in place to help individuals and teams improve their focus and get more done in less time. By effectively organizing and structuring their day, employees will leave the office feeling positive about work. Functional music tools can also be used to boost productivity. Music influences brain activity and can help you reach the desired mental state. It’s not just a great way to enhance concentration, but also to create a cocoon that blocks out distractions both at home and at the office.
Working from home has reduced the connection/disconnection time that comes with commuting between home and the office, for instance. To transition from work mode to personal life, there are pre-and post-work meditation tools that help people to de-stress and unwind after a busy day.
While some organizations have been using these kinds of tools for some time, others only started during the pandemic. As the situation improves and people are starting to go back to the office, it’s up to businesses to figure out whether these digital solutions will play a strategic role.
Company culture first
Technology has long been accused of being the biggest productivity killer. When used right, however, it undoubtedly makes life easier. Technological advances, as well as the development of digital tools, have enabled the creation of some incredible resources that enable us to maintain balance and structure in our everyday lives. They promote wellbeing and protect our most asset: time. What we mustn’t forget is that whatever tools a company offers, company culture is the driving force that influences and impacts its people’s wellbeing.
Here at KPMG in Luxembourg, the pandemic has forced us to rethink our approach in many areas, including our own employees’ wellbeing and ways to improve their work-life balance.
HR teams: are you ready to be changemakers? Is your organization ready to hit reset and embrace this shift? Our People & Change team is here to accompany you on your journey. Get in touch!
This article has been written by Alexia Schuster.