How to work hard but still have a life

By on January 29, 2013

In the early days, life at an SME can be gruelling for everyone involved. Here’s how to make sure the balance isn’t tipped too far in favour of work says Michael Northcott.

Work smart, not long
There’s only so much time in a day, so encourage your employees to think differently when it comes to their daily tasks. Is there a way they could be done faster with tighter prioritisation? Suggest a time limit per task, and ask them to look out for and avoid any activities that have a negative impact on efficiency. This might be holding spontaneous meetings or volunteering to take on more work than is feasible. Optimising productivity between 9 and 5 means overtime will no longer be necessary, and your staff can spend their personal time focusing on themselves.

Take structured breaks
Encourage activities that promote productivity and concentration, such as daytime exercise and relaxation classes. Getting a blast of fresh air at lunchtime will help propel your team towards a more productive afternoon. Coffee breaks at personally-allocated times also help compartmentalise their days, making it easier to define what is work and what is leisure.

Cut down travelling time
The commute is tricky when considering work/life balance, as it doesn’t fall into either category. It should be as short as possible – the less time spent on an over-packed train or in a traffic jam, the less stressed employees will be when they walk through the door. Consider altering your employees’ working hours. Arriving and leaving an hour early could have a positive effect on the individual, the team and the company. Cycling to work can also be faster than driving or taking public transport. It has the added bonus of providing some early morning exercise, which is known to boost concentration and energy levels.

Separate work from play
With compartmentalisation in mind, try to ensure that a line is drawn between work and leisure. Employees who work flexibly or need to take work home could try working in a specific area of their house. Then, when they leave that area, they can recuperate in the comfort of their own home without being reminded of work-related issues.

Try virtual meetings
Do you or your employees often have meetings in another office? Could they be held via video? Research has shown that the adoption of video conferencing has doubled over the last ten years. 42% of companies now choose it over face-to-face meetings. As many laptops have a camera and microphone built in, it’s easy to jump on this bandwagon. You can even hold video calls via your smartphone or tablet with the right apps.

Explore flexible working
There are plenty of options that can be tailored to the needs of both the team and the individual. Consider remote working, flexi time or job sharing for your employees – the flexible working trend is growing. The good news is that technology is evolving to make this an increasingly attractive and convenient option. Cloud services make it easier for employees to access work and collaborate from any location, eradicating the need to come into the office every day.

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