Savvy business owners understand the importance of a seamless customer experience, and effective eCommerce development is a cornerstone for any company wanting to stay relevant and connected. But while companies should prioritize building something great (and let’s be honest, it can also be incredibly rewarding!), it is important to acknowledge that the process can also be stressful. With such a large percentage of the workforce still at home, understanding and supporting a proper work-life balance is a key component in the fast-paced environment of eCommerce development.
Recent statistics from U.S. News show that 44% of remote workers would like to continue working from home, while a study from the World Economic Forum showed that 52% would prefer a hybrid model—a notable increase of 22% from before the pandemic. Interestingly, this move could be a benefit to companies as well: “A hybrid model can help organizations make the most of talent wherever it resides. At the same time, it can lower costs and strengthen organizational performance”.
This all sounds like a win-win, so why are 73% of workers reporting feeling burnt out? And with 27% of those workers reporting that work and home life have blended with no separation, what can employers do to support their employees and prioritize mental health?
“Work-life balance” is a term so bandied about that it is important to get specific on what it precisely entails. According to Anna Cox, a professor of human-computer interaction at UCL, it means “feeling in control of how you balance the various demands of all aspects of life to enable wellbeing and avoid illness. It should involve happiness, fulfillment, and job satisfaction.” With so many workers feeling overworked and stressed, it becomes clear that our ability to constantly connect doesn’t mean that we should be. Cox adds that “Policymakers need to take concrete action to protect workers’ rights to switch off”, which is an important point. However, we must also address the company’s role in creating a supportive culture that prioritizes the employees’ well-being.
A critical first step—and one that a shocking 60% of companies have not yet taken—is getting clear on remote working policies. Before the pandemic, a frequently perpetuated falsehood suggested that remote work leads to falling productivity levels. Interestingly, however, recent evidence suggests the opposite is true. According to The Conversation, “Working from home effectively means working more. In the UK, for example, many employees are reportedly putting in an extra two hours a day. It’s even longer in the US.” This falsehood, coupled with a fear of being under surveillance from employers, has led to people working harder for longer. Employers have been under tremendous pressure to survive the pandemic, but as more and more people begin to suffer, we must be clear about sustainable productivity rates. Clearly stating the company’s expectations in regards to productivity and letting employees know that they have a right to uphold a proper work-life balance is a necessary first step in squashing anxiety and establishing trust.
Once remote working policies become clearly defined, what else can we do to support employees in this changing environment? A recent study from Google revealed that nearly 68% of employees use one smartphone for both work and personal purposes, while 32% use two smartphones, though not always one for work and one for personal use. The study further noted that the use of one device for personal and work purposes caused a lack of balance. With an increasing number of employees working from home, and a large number of companies announcing hybrid work plans, employees are increasingly juggling work and personal life on a single device. Many are struggling with work-life balance and maintaining privacy, with 70% of responders saying that they would prefer a user interface (UI) on their phones that clearly separates work, personal apps, and data, it is clear that companies and employees alike have a responsibility to create a boundary that protects employee privacy while ensuring their ability to remain productive.
As the industry continues to rapidly evolve, employers that want to connect with top talent may need to reprioritize their company culture. According to Cranberry Panda, “Now, we believe there will be a slight change in how candidates approach the job offer–how a role caters to well-being and mental health is going to be a huge trend.” They go on to say that “lack of socialization and inability for employers to gauge wellbeing of remote employees can be problematic. It is difficult to get social cues on a Zoom call. More wellbeing checks will be necessary moving forward if workers continue to stay remote.” Unfortunately, 54% of the survey’s respondents predicted that this will be a major challenge in the year ahead.
68% of the respondents specified that a focus on employee wellness makes for a good company culture (a notable 24% increase from the previous year). With such a clear majority of workers making it clear that work-life balance and mental health is a top priority, it is obvious that employers have both a massive and immediate responsibility to create a supportive work environment.
In addition to clear company-wide messaging, effective leaders also have a responsibility to highlight the importance of a proper work-life balance: employees need to know that they are supported in creating a healthy life. Feeling safe in prioritizing these boundaries is a huge step towards a healthy and productive workplace, and leaders should also be trained to detect the earlier signs of burnout to further foster emotional support.
How to Empower your Employees to Have a Good Work-Life Balance
To put a healthy work culture in place, how can companies empower their employees? In a recent article from Agiledrop, they shared six remarkably simple yet effective tips that leaders should encourage from their team members:
- DO get enough rest and exercise.
- DO learn how to effectively manage your time.
- DO something meaningful after you finish work, something that isn’t work-related, to help with your self-actualization.
- DON’T let work-time creep into your you-time.
- DON’T allow work to be the only thing you have going on.
- And finally, perhaps the hardest one: DON’T be a perfectionist.
While these may seem obvious, the current statistics illustrate an unfortunate reality: most workers are not abiding by these rules. But with supportive leadership, employees can make positive changes that will be beneficial to both themselves and the quality of the work they do.
There are other ways in which employers can be supportive: global training around the habits of highly effective people across teams is one way to help establish focus, and discussions surrounding what can be controlled and influenced versus what cannot, which can liberate employees from unnecessary worry and stress. This team-building, which also encourages employees to engage socially (yes, even remotely), increases motivation, energy, and work-life balance.
Further team building can be implemented by initiating different programs by country supporting individual health, active lifestyles, and stress management. These workshops reinforce what an active lifestyle means while encouraging employees to create their own personalized habits around those concepts—a powerful skill that also benefits outside the workplace.
The concept of flexibility in the workplace is a wildly new idea, and as such, it can feel a bit uncomfortable. Both employers and employees alike may feel a little distrustful as they first begin to implement these changes. But the data is clear and conclusive: a solid work-life balance leads to increased worker satisfaction, and satisfied workers are better employees. New research consistently shows positive results from experiments like 4-day workweeks, telecommuting, and flex-time. Of course, these studies also reveal the frightening underbelly of toxic work culture: recent Harvard research found that workplace stress may account for more than 120,000 deaths annually and cost some $125 – $190 billion a year in healthcare spending. Even if companies care only about their bottom line, it is evident that prioritizing people is an important part of creating company-wide success.
Fostering a healthy work environment, giving leaders the appropriate tools to support and monitor stress levels, establishing community through valuable workshops, even sharing effective morning routines can all play a huge role in improving the collective quality of life. When employees have been assured that they have a right to prioritize their mental health and personal time, they are better equipped to face stressful and challenging initiatives in eCommerce development. With over 400+ implementations, Vaimo understands all of the factors involved in driving success in digital commerce. If you would like to learn more—reach out below, we’d be glad to chat.