How To Improve Work-Life Balance at Your Remote Company

Working Remotely

Psst! The secret to high-performing remote teams is a healthy work-life balance. Let’s rebalance yours (desk yoga poses optional).

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Striving for a healthy work-life balance is one of the top reasons people want to work remotely. 

By ditching a commute and adopting a more flexible schedule, teleworkers are empowered to devote equal time to crushing their professional and personal to-do’s — without succumbing to burnout.

But maintaining that optimal balance in a virtual office setting doesn’t come easy. Over ‍40% of remote workers say unplugging after hours is the biggest challenge of working from home.[*

So we’re sharing our favorite tips for how remote companies can improve work-life balance for their teams and why it’s in your organization’s best interest to do so.

What is a Healthy Work-Life Balance Anyway?

A healthy work-life balance means your employees effectively manage their time and energy between their work responsibilities and their personal lives. They can disconnect from their professional alter egos and devote themselves to hobbies, interests, people, etc., that spark joy.

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As Justin Harlan, Managing Director at Tulsa Remote, said in a recent LinkedIn post:

Remote work should empower us to manage our time efficiently while allowing us to recharge and spend quality time with loved ones. 

“Expecting employees to be available around the clock, even during vacations, can lead to burnout and reduced job satisfaction. We should strive for a culture that values personal time and encourages employees to disconnect and rejuvenate. Studies consistently show that a well-rested and motivated workforce is essential for sustained productivity and innovation. 

“Let's remember that remote work isn't just about cutting real estate expenses; it's about creating an environment where individuals can thrive and be their best. By championing life-work balance, empathy, and open communication, we can ensure that remote work remains a powerful tool for personal and professional growth.”

We couldn’t agree more! 👏 So let’s dive into:

How To Improve Work-Life Balance at Your Remote Company

The benefits of a healthy work-life balance include:

  • Better overall health outcomes for remote employees
  • More focused, motivated, and energized team members
  • Higher employee engagement and productivity
  • Greater job satisfaction and increased retention of top talent

Now that you know what’s on the table, add these tips for how to improve work-life balance for remote workers to your game plan:

1. Make Work-Life Balance Part of Your Remote Work Culture

Research shows that 67% of people working remotely feel pressure to be available at all hours of the day.[*] They don’t know how to set boundaries at work or say no.

So it’s up to your organization to nix the “always on” mindset and learn how to build a strong culture with a remote team — one that embraces the power of unplugging.

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Your remote culture defines what you stand for and how you operate. It should contain remote work policies that set healthy boundaries and create a positive work environment.

Here are some ideas you can use to ace this task:

  • Prioritize time off and flexible work arrangements. The best remote companies offer unlimited or generous PTO, encourage employee mental health days, implement a 4-day work week, and empower their teams to work when they’re most productive. 
  • Draft a virtual communication policy for responding to work-related messages. Employees should never feel pressured to respond to messages or emails outside work hours or when taking time off. Embrace asynchronous communication
  • Establish a company-wide “unplug hour” during the workday. No one should schedule virtual meetings during this time or send work-related messages. Give everyone a chance to breathe, focus, and clear their head.
  • Designate monthly or weekly “No Meeting Days” to provide employees with uninterrupted work time. Use these days to encourage deep focus and productivity.
  • Utilize “do not disturb” signs on virtual office doors. Have your employees update their Slack status, email auto-responder, etc., when they need uninterrupted focus time. Asynchronous communication tools and workflows make catching up later easy. 
  • Give new hires everything they need to succeed. Your virtual onboarding process should include the best remote work tips, such as how to build a healthy routine, how to manage time effectively, how to create a dedicated workspace, how to ask for help, etc. These will make their work lives much less stressful.

Follow these tips, and you’ll stand out as a remote company everyone wants to work for.

2. Motivate Employees To Actually Take Time Off

Offering unlimited paid time off (PTO) gets applicants to apply for a job, signifies a commitment to employee well-being, and simplifies administrative processes.

Despite this win-win, many remote employees don’t know how to disconnect from work. According to research:

  • Nearly half (46%) of US workers don't use all of their PTO.[*]
  • Remote workers were 22% less likely to take any vacation time at all in the past year. They also generally take less time off when they do take vacation.[*]
  • 52% of remote workers aren’t planning to take any time off to decompress.[*]

So how do your employees fare here? 

Your HR leaders must understand who doesn’t feel comfortable taking time off. Then, have your managers hold 1:1s to figure out why.

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Time off isn’t just about living the digital nomad lifestyle and posting envy-inducing vacay selfies. It gives your hard workers time to devote to hobbies and passion projects, volunteer, make memories with friends and family, or do absolutely nothing at all.

🏖️ Psst! Want to give your team a cheat sheet for asking for time off? Add this template to your shared knowledge base.

3. Keep Track of Productivity & Overworking

Managing remote teams requires leaders to set expectations, assess and evaluate employee performance, and provide feedback. 

However, leaders can also leverage performance management metrics to learn how to delegate tasks and ensure consistent, achievable workloads.

Using this data, managers can see which employees are regularly overworking. They can assess how long it typically takes employees to complete goals. And they can gather feedback from team members about expectations and the flow of work.

It’s vital to keep an eye on employee performance to watch for signs that employees are working overtime, have too much on their plates, or are sinking rather than striding to the finish line. These types of tools shouldn’t be mistaken for “digital leash” worker surveillance technologies, which erode trust with the employer and should be banned.

4. Invest In Employee Wellness Initiatives 

Remote workers spend three more hours on their computers than in-office employees.[*] That’s why the best employee benefits often include wellness initiatives that promote less screen time and more physical and mental health perks.

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Your wellness campaigns can help telecommuting teams take their minds off work and encourage greater employee well-being. See if your crew would be into any of these ideas:

  • Support mental health in the workplace. Host virtual yoga sessions and mindfulness meditation workshops to make workdays a little brighter.
  • Contribute to better health. Give employees subscriptions, memberships, or discounts to local gyms, health clubs, fitness studios, or wellness apps.
  • Help your team overcome the biggest remote work challenges. Remove more work anxiety by offering webinars from experts on the best productivity tips, time management strategies, stress management techniques, etc.
  • Get your teams outside. Holding weekly step-count challenges? Pretty good. Pushing your employees to travel off the beaten path? Excellent! Encourage your explorers to share photos from their walk in a new park, hiking trail, downtown block, etc., to inspire more employees to skip away from their desks.
  • Do the cooking. Partner with a meal delivery service to give your team a weekly or monthly break from cooking and cleaning up.
  • Start a “Random Acts of Appreciation” program. Surprise your remote employees with e-gift cards to enjoy a local brew, visit the zoo with their fam, snag a swanky meal, and just have fun off the clock.

Take a cue from Tulsa Remote here. Besides paying remote workers $10,000 to move to their city (whoa!), the program also focuses on the amazing opportunities available for employees to score a thriving work-life balance. So make sure to highlight your company perks too. 

5. Encourage Outside Passion Projects

A balanced work-life allows more time for employees to pursue hobbies, interests, and passions. These contribute to continuous learning, self-improvement, and personal development.

Better news? 

Sparking and nurturing a new interest outside of work can actually fuel innovation, creativity, and problem-solving skills on the job. It’s one of the best ways to support career growth for remote employees.

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To motivate your team to follow what makes them curious or excited:

  • Ask employees about their non-work related hobbies and interests during 1:1s. 
  • Hold a “Passion Project Hour” during the workweek to encourage employees to take a break and spend time on these interests.
  • Create a “Passion Showcase” for remote employees to share their creative projects with their team in a non-judgmental, totally supportive setting.

You never know where one employee’s interests may take them. After all, your developer’s burgeoning watercolor hobby could help your UI/UX team skyrocket the appeal of your products, website, or new app.

6. Break Up the Work Day with Social Bonding

Do your remote workers know how to take breaks to be more productive?

Nearly 40% of remote employees don’t feel connected to their peers, which may allow loneliness to creep in and sabotage their productivity.[*]

So why not make more time for connection and social bonding on the clock?

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Consider these remote work best practices for how to build strong relationships with your team:

  • Host a “Buddy of the Month” program. Remote employees who sign up can have a rotating “buddy” within the company to share weekly virtual lunches or coffee breaks. This should make workdays less stressful and build cross-team friendships.
  • Hold book club breaks or binge deep dives. Start a virtual book/TV show/movie club and promote lighthearted chats to connect over it. Rotate the responsibility of selecting media and leading discussions among team members.
  • Organize beginner follow-alongs. Want to help your crew learn something new and fun? Arrange monthly follow-alongs for employees to pick up a new, non-work related skill like Bob Ross-style painting, healthy cooking, crocheting, gardening, etc.

🫶 Check out these five other Non-Cheesy Remote Virtual Team-Building Activities!

✨ Healthy Work Habits, Happy Remote Teams

It doesn’t take a lot for your organization to implement these work-life balance tips for remote workers. However, it does require commitment from everyone at the top.

So rather than praising employees for working long hours or expecting managers to check in when they’re taking PTO, make unplugging the new definition of remote work success. 

You’ll cultivate a happier, healthier, more productive remote team that stays for the long haul. You’ll also foster a company culture that values the well-being of its employees, which naturally attracts top talent to apply for your roles.

We’re signing off, and we think you deserve a break to disconnect now too!

💭 Did you know understaffed teams are the leading driver of remote work burnout? Add more remote talent to your ranks so your crew doesn’t have to burn the midnight oil. We Work Remotely is the #1 remote job board to find your next dream hire!

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