It’s not easy for you to be the best version of yourself all the time. We accomplish this by carefully positioning ourselves to accommodate several streams of simultaneous activity.
Your work stream is the obvious one: That’s one that can consume us the most. And it’s the stream that I’ve found can cause the most imbalance. As humans, we have a natural inclination to care for ourselves, our families, and our friends. We generally desire to work hard and be successful in our careers so we can care for them.
As an employer — especially in the technology industry — there are certain things you can do to encourage employees to achieve a better work-life integration that caters to this desire. In this article, we will discuss how you can make life easier for your team and how the use of technology can be integral to that.
It’s not easy for you to stay at the top of your game in all aspects of your life. This is true for your team, too. They need to take care of themselves and have your support in order to perform at their best. They need the technology, the tools and the flexibility to do their best — whenever and wherever.
For example, if you’re armed with the ability to connect to your corporate environment from anywhere, you and other employees should theoretically be able to work from any location. Having the technology that allows you to access files, share them with others, track down a client’s contact information or research some important data points from anywhere is key.
Technology enables multitasking.
Another key is to change the rules. You have to be aware that people are often required to multitask. For example, I believe the rule of “phones down and computers off” during a meeting should be banished and eradicated from your corporate culture. Your people are expected to be constantly in motion. When employees have laptops to use email throughout the facilities and when they’re in meetings, they’re enabled to do so.
Forget the rule of making people put away their devices, and allow multitasking in meetings. If you want to “up” productivity, you may need to think differently. The old rules are antiquated. Based on my experience, plenty of meetings are not the greatest use of time anyway, so offset that loss by allowing people to stay in motion.
Technology enables flexibility and connection.
Keeping communication methods flexible can also make life easier. That’s not only because it makes you extremely efficient with your time — while you’re waiting for your flight at the airport, you can scan a report draft and pass it along rather than hold others up who are waiting for your review — but also because it provides a level of freedom today’s workers seem to value above almost everything else. That’s especially true of the millennial workforce.
According to a 2016 Deloitte survey, millennial workers value work-life balance over other job characteristics, including a sense of purpose and career trajectory. Because millennials grew up as digital natives and are accustomed to regular connection through technology, one Inc. article suggested they are used to always working or at least being connected to work while they’re engaged in other activities. This comfort level with conducting work on the go or from anywhere is likely why Deloitte found 75% of millennials want more opportunities to work remotely. They may see an employer’s approval of remote work as essential for work-life balance, or what I call integration.
And you can’t forget their needs. Being connected is important to them — the Deloitte study found that 77% of millennials desire greater mobile connectivity at work. Part of a company’s appeal for millennials could be letting them integrate their various social media needs during the day. If they want to be connected, a culture that promotes integrated work and social streams could be a good cultural pillar for them.
Unless there is a need for them to be physically present somewhere in particular (such as for a meeting), offering employees the opportunity to work from their preferred location is a big step toward enabling the work-life integration that many workers today seem to want. That freedom can demonstrate your trust in them and, in many cases, I’ve found it drives team members to perform at even higher levels.
That freedom does require technology, however, to stay in touch and be accessible. This can include cell phones, laptops and tablets. On top of the hardware they need to be location-independent, your team will also need collaboration tools to remain connected to work and their colleagues and clients. Some of the tools on the market today that companies are levering include Microsoft Teams, OneDrive, Azure and Slack.
Because they’re based in the cloud, these tools offer flexibility, the features necessary to access and manage files remotely and the ability to communicate with everyone else on the team in a timely or real-time manner.
I believe technology and its fast evolution are gifts and that we should use them to not only make our companies more valuable and productive, but also to make the lives of our employees easier. And with the latter, you can ultimately gain the former.