76% of the financial services workforce were able to work remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic — with half stating they want to continue working from home after the pandemic. However, working from home comes with its own challenges, including finding a work-life balance.
With remote work, it can be difficult to switch off from your job because your office is just a few paces away, and your work phone is right next to you as you’re trying to relax in the evenings.
Failing to take space from these work habits can leave you and your employees feeling burnt out. In this article, we’ll discuss the benefits of work-life balance and how you can help foster a work-life balance in your accounting firm when your employees are working from home.
A life that’s all work and no play leads to an unmotivated and stressed-out workforce — which isn’t good for your firm or your people. However, a healthy balance can boost your employees’ overall contentment with their place in the business.
When employees are content with their job, it inspires them to go that extra mile for the firm. As a result, they become more engaged, which is a massive benefit for firms trying to grow their business because dedicated employees are often the driving force behind any successful organisation.
When firms foster balance, not only does the workforce become engaged, but they become less stressed. According to the HSE, work-related stress, depression and anxiety account for 44% of work-related ill health and 57% of working days lost in the UK. Even when working from home, these negative feelings can quickly become overwhelming for employees if there isn’t balance.
Stress can then hinder growth and act as a barrier to employees’ productivity — leaving them feeling unmotivated and even slowing down a firm’s growth. Senior figures need to promote a healthy work-life balance in accounting firms (even when working remotely) to create a culture that values workers’ time instead of praising overworking.
Balance isn’t about abandoning work for personal activities. It’s about trusting your team to get the job done and giving them the freedom to enjoy their personal life, which can do wonders for any firm.
The benefits of work-life balance are clear, but promoting a healthy balance in accounting firms can be difficult — especially when everyone’s working from home.
Here are four simple steps you can take to ensure your employees are experiencing all aspects of life and not just work:
Encourage breaks during work
CPAs aren’t robots — but they do need to recharge their batteries from time to time. Taking breaks during work can sometimes seem impossible when there are always numbers to crunch and deadlines to meet. But failing to take time out of the day to eat, drink and refuel can lead to a culture of overworking and stress.
Encouraging your employees to take lunch breaks, short walks, and a moment away from the computer could see vast improvements in their happiness and productivity.
Stick to a work schedule
Sticking to a work schedule can be difficult when your home is your office. It’s easy to answer just one more email or take one more call before clocking off. But before you know it, it’s 8 o’clock and you’ve not had dinner yet.
It’s essential that your employees feel comfortable leaving their desks at closing time. Implementing a “shut-off” time can give your employees the confidence to leave non-urgent tasks for the next day so that they can spend time relaxing and enjoying their evenings.
It’s also important that your employees know they don’t have to respond to emails when the workday ends. Make this clear so they fully understand the boundaries between work and home life.
Offer well-being activities
Remote employees may become less active, as they’re not commuting or running from A to B in the office anymore. Instead, they’re sitting in front of computers for hours a day, which could seriously impact their physical and mental well-being.
By offering free gym memberships (or even online fitness classes), you can make a more active lifestyle accessible to everyone. This also gives employees a chance to focus on themselves, away from the screen. Investing time in self-care is the perfect solution to a strained work-life balance for remote employees.
Check in on your team regularly
Stress and other negative feelings may not be as apparent through the screen as they would be in an office setting. You might think everything’s fine when there are actually bad feelings bubbling up under the surface.
By holding regular meetings with your employees, you can gauge how they feel about their work-life balance in the accounting firm and find solutions that will benefit everyone. Being open and transparent with your employees also means you can share how you balance your work and personal life, giving your employees the confidence to set boundaries between office and personal hours.
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