It’s ok to turn off email after work and enjoy the evening with your close ones! But, team members and managers themselves do not listen. They would check emails every time the phone buzzes, remain available round the clock and brag about working late or on weekends. We must realize that over work can cost the company in lower productivity, increased burnout and frequent sick leaves.
It was a usual Wednesday morning when I dialled up to an old colleague of mine to wish her birthday. She sounded tired and her excitement for the day was missing, rightly mentioned that endless virtual meetings and catching up deadlines is exhausting. The delightful perk to work from home is a thing of the past. Now, when most of the employees are working remotely – the work demands are on rise and the time saved on commuting is utilized for meetings which sometimes creeps earlier in the day or late time between dinner and late bedtime.
The working hours of people are soaring, productivity and quality of work is diving down compelling organizations and HRs to find ways how to encourage employees to unplug and recharge. As we wait for the pandemic to get over with the news of “vaccination is a good year away”. The deadly coronavirus is here to stay for some time which means working from home is continued. The vacations employees take should be considered as a tool for focused family time, caregiving and self-care. The shift is needed from what any would do on a traditional vacation or staycation - to envision creative ways to relax, like sketching, singing or start reading books that have been on shelf for a long time.
The caps for maximum vacation accrual can be increased encouraging people to take break. During this pandemic employees are further more insecure about their jobs and they need encouragement from their managers that they’re safe while they take some respite. The culture of the company can start from the place of care and concern for their workforce to reinforce the maxim that people are the strongest asset and the company is there for them during good and bad times irrespective of their personal circumstances.
A manager needs to demonstrate through his/her action to take time off with the aim of encouraging his team. Shorter breaks can be encouraged perhaps an afternoon or full day here and there. Frequent breaks are more helpful because with high stress levels one cannot wait for a lengthy vacation of the past. People need to refuel early and often.
However, all this requires meticulous and intelligent planning of work in the team, when people share their responsibilities and cover for each other they can rotate time off without stopping work. It increases job satisfaction, work-life balance, collaboration and effectiveness by predictable time off. The entire team can be involved and taking time off becomes the culture of the organization, where people are taken care off.
Working from home doesn’t mean working round the clock. The detachment caused by back to back video calls can be eased through reinventing the vacations and time off and encouraging the team to do the same. When the rules are shared, behaviours are modelled; caring is shown and trust that people will do the right thing.