The Importance of Work-Life Balance While Working Remotely

The Importance of Work-Life Balance While Working Remotely

A little over two years ago, office life changed to a degree we’d never seen before, as lockdowns came into force in the wake of COVID-19. This was a dramatic shift for businesses, as we took a leap away from the office and into the unknown.

56% of workers asked in a recent Gitlab survey had never worked from home before 2020. Now, remote working is something that has become increasingly prominent in our post-pandemic society. New Verve, like many companies, was office-based pre-pandemic; we’ve since shifted to remote-first working permanently.

This has created many benefits, both for the organisation and our staff. Being flexible with where and how employees work suits the new remote nature of our company.

Our main focus is on results rather than presenteeism, which we have found leads to employee satisfaction. We also understand the importance of work-life balance when it comes to remote working, as the distinction between work and home can become vague over time. We use Atlassian tools and have checks in place to ensure our employees feel empowered and happy at work.
A Wildgoose survey has also shown that remote workers take shorter lunch breaks and struggle with ‘always being on’. It’s true that remote working can blur the lines between your job and leisure, which can in turn lead to burnout.

The Importance of Work-Life Balance

It’s important that there’s a divide between home and work to ensure employees have a good work-life balance.

When many companies made the move to remote working they discovered great benefits. One of these was greater work flexibility and the redundancy of a daily commute, allowing their employees to take more time every day to work on themselves. However, this shift came with issues too; isolated working made it far more difficult for companies to recognise potential issues with their employees. This highlighted a vital need for improved communication between all levels in a company to ensure employees’ well-being was recognised when working remotely.

With 90% of work-based absences being due to stress, companies must prioritise employee wellbeing and mental health. 73% of companies that took part in the 2022 CIPD and Simplyhealth survey have taken steps towards flexible working hours and improving work/life balance to try and remedy this epidemic of stress at work.

Evidence suggests that improving work time and location flexibility contribute to an increase in employee retention, productivity and satisfaction. By trusting employees to be autonomous over their work schedules and clearly outlining expectations companies can expect to find employee commitment and happiness increasing.
New Verve hosts regular socials that are built into the work week. These allow time for informal chats between colleagues to create and build stronger working relationships. On Wednesdays, the team play a variety of games which help with communication and allow everyone to see how others work and think. Then, on Fridays, there is an afternoon catch-up where everyone can discuss their weekend plans, and how they’re doing. These socials are a way to maintain a social aspect to remote working where employees may feel isolated or disconnected from their team and company.

Maintaining a Social Aspect to Remote Working

Everyone gains from these socials as the relationships built upon are applicable in a professional situation and can create smoother interactions. Chatting with people that work for totally different areas of the company also illuminates how all departments work together towards a bigger picture.

Catch up with a Colleague is another weekly meeting that the New Verve team take part in. Each person will have a 30-60 minute catch-up call with another colleague, picked at random from across the business. It offers a time to find out more about the people you work with and not just focus on the work they do.

These catch-ups highlight the importance of work-life balance as they help connect all areas of the company and refocus the bigger picture of New Verve. It is crucial to maintain these practices in a remote situation to ensure all members of New Verve feel connected.

New Verve employees also have the option to go into an on-demand, serviced office if they feel like that suits them better. These offices can be booked alongside colleagues for a more social experience too.

Finally, we also conduct pulse surveys which are anonymous and allow the team to comment on any issues they are facing as well as anything they are finding helpful. We have a Wellness Champion who fosters an open space that encourages team communication and signposts relevant wellness resources to the wider team.
New Verve has always strived for an inclusive and healthy working atmosphere. During COVID-19 we found that we could apply and maintain these values in a remote working situation. We constructively optimised the use of our Atlassian tools to carry forward the importance of work-life balance into remote working.

Using Technology to Stay Connected

These tools have been vital to the smooth transition from the physical to the remote office, helping to ensure transparency and accountability in isolation. These standards have, in turn, reduced tension and increased communication in a remote environment.

Tools such as Confluence allow a team to collaborate on a document in real-time from anywhere with an internet connection. Similarly, Jira tickets permit easy delegation, as well as an openness about workloads. An important aspect of these tools is that they make communicating remotely easy. This leads to a connected team that can thrive in an environment of honesty and accountability.

Working with a ticketing system like Jira creates order and ensures expectations are clear to prevent undue stress. The team know the upcoming tasks, what’s done and what is to be done. Making keeping up with everything easy since everyone can view the boards and update their tasks.

Working remotely can de-prioritise the importance of work-life balance. Wildgoose found that 55% of respondents urged for communication and expectations to be kept within working hours in order to reduce burnout and stress while working remotely.
Each team hosts daily stand-ups where individuals go through their daily tasks and discuss any points they have. These help with team alignment and clarify the focus of the team. Similarly, at the end of a project, we have retros which are a point for the team to evaluate and discuss together. During these retros, we take the time to highlight what went well and what could change in the future to help the team stay on the same page.

Setting Clear Expectations

At New Verve there are clear expectations on working hours, we operate on flexible hours which allows our employees to do what is best for them. We also finish early on a Friday which allows for a nice start to the weekend. At New Verve we value the importance of work-life balance and want our whole team to feel healthy, well, valued and supported.

At New Verve we establish a learning culture and ensure that the team takes part in enablement activities of their choice for one day a week, this means we operate on a 4+1 working week. This gives time for everyone to choose a training topic of their choice to work on and improve their skills. It also ties into one of New Verve’s main values; always keep an open mind.

A principle practice at New Verve is the monthly 1-2-1’s an employee has with their manager. These are more personal, and confidential than other meets. They ensure each individual at New Verve gets the support they need and has the time to discuss any issues. Similarly, the 1-2-1’s help to gain feedback on what is going well for employees and what they enjoy at work; they are another space to check-in and ensure that our team feels their workload is balanced.

By using Atlassian tools to support our values and priorities we make remote working, work. In addition to being able to hire people from across the country, moving away from a physical office has brought us many benefits. These include higher employee retention and satisfaction.

With checks and balances in place to ensure a good work-life balance, remote working can be rewarding. Individuals are given the freedom to decide what is right for them and work in a way that meets both their work-life balance needs and the needs of New Verve.

Do you feel like you are a good fit for the New Verve team and share our values? Have a look at our careers page.

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