Work-life balance is not a new concept. It simply means carving out appropriate time for your professional and personal life. But lately it’s become a trend, with small businesses and startups using it to attract young talent, which has lead to defining exactly what it means for their employees. Often times, it comes down to how a growing company can achieve maximum productivity at a reasonable cost to their employees’ time and well-being.
More recently, companies have been finding that productivity comes in different forms for different employees, leading to a revolution in what a normal work day looks like. We recently asked 17 CEOs, business leaders and entrepreneurs what their process is to achieve work-life balance. It turns out, it can take on many different forms.
Check out how some business leaders blazed a trail for balancing life and work, and how their organizations benefited from it. Then, if you want to read more, check out these productivity trends.
1. Set Boundaries with Your Clients
Lakshmia Marie, CEO of LMF Consulting Group, believes in setting expectations of when work is to be done helps boost productivity and retention. “In order to maintain a highly productive and happy workplace, we make sure that we have clear boundaries set up between us and our clients.
“We have defined business hours; we have specific people that help on holidays and weekends only; we encourage unlimited vacations and no one stays on the clock past 6 pm, ever. This has helped us stay productive during work hours, set up client expectations and helped us retain more of our workforce.”
2. Restrict Employee Hours
Saloni Doshi, CEO of a growing sustainable packing company, EcoEnclose, began to notice that productivity was slipping, despite the long hours and hard work of her employees.
“We’re lucky to have extremely dedicated employees who believe in our mission just as much as I do. As we’ve continued to grow, so have their roles and responsibilities. Naturally, stress levels also began to rise, and productivity decreased. We knew we needed to change how we worked in order to turn things around,” said Doshi.
Saloni decided the best way to improve her employees’ restfulness and productivity was to enforce dedicated hours.
“To encourage work-life balance we have recently restricted working hours for both employees and owners,” she added. “High productivity doesn’t necessarily mean working full eight-hour days. With restricted hours employees are encouraged to get their work done efficiently and have more flexibility when it comes to personal life.”
Related: An Introduction to Workforce Management
3. Allow Flexibility for Overtime
Danielle Kunkle, Co-founder of Boomer Benefits, also instituted a mandatory leave time in order to prevent her employees from burning out.
“We noticed we had a few employees who would work late, which would burn out both the employees and the managers,” she said. “This was especially happening during our busy season from October 15th – December 7th, when people would often be here until 8 PM or 9 PM. This year we implemented a hard close at 7 PM. This still gives them plenty of opportunities to make sales and also earn overtime, but not to the point of burnout.”
Related: How to Stop Overthinking at Work (and in Life)
4. Institute Flexibility for Working Parents
Kristin Baird, President and CEO of Baird Group, has many flexible policies for her employees. Kristin allows employees to work from home when needed, split their shifts to spend time with family, and allows working parents to leave on time.
“Having entered the workforce in the 1980s,” she said, “I was in the first generation of women who could have it all with career and family. The reality was that we had to work twice as hard in the workplace to earn our place traditionally held by men. At the end of each workday we returned home for the second shift, working at home until we dropped. It was this life experience that cemented my commitment to fostering work-life balance for my team.”
Related: How to Make a Work From Home Policy (with Examples)
5. Work Remotely
Amy Kilvington, Content Marketing Manager at Blinds Direct, takes advantage of her company’s generous work location policy. Blinds Direct invests in employee technology so that they have everything they need to work remotely.
“Everyone is encouraged to use instant messaging and project management tools to make sure that communication is maintained when team members work remotely. We’ve found that by allowing team members to adapt their hours and work locations, they appreciate our flexibility and in turn produce even better work.”
6. Conduct Daily Stand Up Meetings
Stuart Hearn, founder and CEO of Clear Review, requires his employees to attend a daily standup meeting, either in person or virtually, but otherwise employees can work wherever they’d like.
“We measure their performance on impact and results and not hours spent at their desk,” said Hearn. “We also use Slack on our mobiles, so we can respond to urgent questions even if we’re not at our desks. We find this helps us to maintain high levels of customer service, whilst still offering flexibility. We also allow our staff to work from wherever they want, as long as they have an internet connection. In fact, one of our staff recently worked for two days out of a hotel in India so that he could attend a wedding out there and still deliver on an important deadline.”
7. Lead by Example
Jen Salamandick, Strategy Director at Kick Point, notices a lot of companies have a flexible work policy, but often employees don’t take advantage of it.
“If your company has a flexible schedule,” she said, “the best thing you can do to get your team to use it to improve their work-life balance is to use it yourself! I work for an hour or so from home in the morning with a cup of coffee, then head to the office (completely avoiding rush hour) to work for 5-6 hours, before heading home ahead of traffic.”
Salamandick added, “It’s been great to see our team begin to embrace our flexible policy, albeit slowly. When people don’t have to worry about being at work when it doesn’t make sense for them to be there if they can’t be productive, they are more comfortable. The atmosphere in the office is always positive because people are happy to be there and fully engaged. I’m also proud to report that when a team member works from home or switches from their regular schedule, there is no drop in the quality of work they produce!”
8. Work Outside the Office
You can decorate your cubicles all you want, but there comes a time when the monotony of office scenery becomes a drag. Multiple studies show that workers can benefit from working out of the office from time to time. Whether it’s their local coffee shop, book store or their living room, sometimes getting away can be a boon for productivity.
Neil Mclaren, owner and founder of Vaping.com, likes to give his employees that same flexibility primarily because he notices it improves productivity.
“Our employees aren’t necessarily needed in our office all the time,” he said, “so at times when they can work from elsewhere, we allow them to operate as remote employees. Our employees love this freedom and constantly remark about how creative they feel when they aren’t limited to working in the office. Since implementing this strategy, we have noticed remarkable improvement in the overall work ethic and satisfaction of our team!”
9. Office Half Days
Pau Kroger, Founder of Foxy Trades, noticed as they rolled out their flexible work hours policy their employee satisfaction skyrocketed.
“This is something that we have been focusing on in our office. The way we try to do it is, we ask for people to spend at least half of the day in the office and choose where they would like to work from for the other part of the day. All we ask is that they need to make sure that all their tasks are completed,” said Kroger.
“We played around with these rules for a year and finally settled with this solution,” Kroger added, “as it provided us with the best results and super-high employee satisfaction. They are really grateful for the opportunity and trust.”
10. Trust Employees
Steven Picanza, Co-Founder of Latin & Code, has embraced technology as a way to foster a flexible hours policy for his employees.
“By trusting your employees and allowing them the space to provide value and production on their time and terms as long as they are adhering to milestones and timelines, you can begin to promote an active work-life balance. We’ve stopped booking so many meetings and have allowed technology and processes to stimulate growth and in turn, a great culture,” said Picanza.
“Need to work from home? That’s okay as long as you do what you’re supposed to. Need to leave early? No problem as long as you’re being efficient. Want to work from the bar? Don’t charge it on the company card and don’t let it show,” he added.
11. Encourage Vacation Time
Matt Collins, Owner and Founder of Loans Now, believes that vacation time should be treated as a means to increase productivity by companies and not as solely an employee benefit.
“As a quick growing company, it can be easy to burn out your staff,” he said. “At our company, we enforce a mandatory paid time off equal to two weeks per year. Even the most committed employee needs time away from their job, time to relax and time to clear themselves away from the pressures of the job. We have found consistently that after taking some time away from the job, employees return more motivated, more productive and with a new level of commitment.”
12. Get Physical
Paige Arnof-Fenn, Founder & CEO of Mavens & Moguls, believes a healthy dose of physical activity does wonders for employee satisfaction and productivity, incorporating something employees would do after hours during work.
“My top tip is that I try to find creative ways to multitask that incorporates exercise, you’ll be amazed how much more energy and time you have! Instead of meeting up with your local colleagues at a coffee shop, over a meal or chatting with them on the phone, meet them for a walk so you can catch up while you are getting some exercise too. You’ll feel great after, the time will fly & it will be a fun activity to share,” said Arnof-Fenn
“It works with customers too,” she added. “I have clients who play golf so sometimes we meet at a driving range instead of the office to discuss things especially when you are trying to think outside the box. A change in venue is always nice and you feel so much better when you are moving and not trapped behind your desk.”
13. Require Flexibility
Sabya Clarke, Virtual Reality (VR) Screenwriter and Director at Cinemagik, believes the nature of their work lends itself better to working remotely.
“My team includes a VR producer, a VR technical director and visual effects supervisors, voice actors and more. Our cinematic virtual reality experiences as well as non-cinematic experiences are long-term and highly intense to make. Unlike your typical movie, there’s a lot of coding and more,” she said.
“We balance work and life by working the hours we choose,” Clarke added. “We use milestones and communicate via email, a project management platform, texts and calls. However, no one has set hours. Some teammates start work at 2 AM, and others start at 9 PM. We are productive because we trust ourselves and one another to remain on task and get the job done well.”
14. Lose the Office
Tim Cameron-Kitchen, Head Ninja & CEO at Exposure Ninja, used to have an office but realized the company saves money and increases productivity when all of its employees work remotely.
“As a 100% remote team, our employees have a lot of flexibility with working hours,” he said. “This allows them to create a work-life balance which works for them. Giving employees this flexibility means people can choose their own working hours around their families, travels, or other interests. Working from home can often blur the work-life boundaries, so we encourage employees to take all work apps off of their mobile phones and turn off laptops and chat channels when not working.”
“I find employees are more productive working remotely than from an office because they can fit work around their time,” he added. “We used to have an office, but found that distractions and ‘having to be in the office’ meant that, actually, productivity was lower.”
Cameron-Kitchen noted, “Working remotely on your terms means that when you want to work, you can. When you don’t, you can go and walk the dog or go for a run. That flexibility motivates people, so when they do come to work, they know their own hours are best for them. Having tried both remote and office-based, for work-life balance I think there’s no contest and we’ll be sticking with a remote workforce for the foreseeable future.”
15. Empower Employees
Nick Gray, founder & CEO of Museum Hack, similarly finds that the flexibility employees have of choosing their own hours and work locations empower them to produce their best work and maintain a healthy balance between work and personal life.
“Museum Hack is a fully remote company,” he said. “We’ve bootstrapped to $3 million in annual revenue — we don’t have an office anywhere. With a few exceptions, team members are responsible for their own schedules. We find this flexibility, of being able to run errands during the day or spend time with loved ones on a matching schedule, is empowering.”
He added, “We keep ourselves productive by assigning clear deliverables with specific deadlines and tracking time with a tool called Toggl which includes easy-to-read graphs on how we are spending our time. Our flexible work schedule helps us attract and retain talented, passionate people who are results-driven.”
16. Bring Your Family to Work
Kimberly Rath, Chairman and Co-Founder, Talent Plus, Inc. takes a unique approach to create a work-life balance by including family in many work of her company’s events.
“We include families in our work, starting on Great Take Off Day. All new associates begin on the same day each month and that day concludes with a celebration to which family members are invited to. They see where their family member works, watch their family member receive their Talent Card and meet their family member’s leader/team members,” said Rath.
“We teach a class to spouses and significant others about our science and services offered,” she added. “A summer Youth Leadership Academy for upper elementary-high school for children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews of associates is offered to learn strengths and how to apply those to individual growth and school. We host family events like the Spring Celebration, Halloween, and the children’s holiday event where Santa comes and delivers personalized gifts. Family members are welcome to join in social responsibility events.”
17. Don’t Fix What’s Not Broken
Yves Frinault, Co-Founder & CEO of FieldWire, likes to stick to what works when it comes to managing employee stress and responsibilities.
“As simple as it sounds, we work very hard while we are at work. You sometimes think that as a startup, people would be running around with nerf guns or playing ping pong in the office, but it’s quite the contrary. We focus on creating windows of time where people can perform uninterrupted work,” said Frinault.
“For a good portion of the mornings, most of us have our noise-canceling headphones on and are super focused on our work,” he added. “In the afternoon, things usually are more relaxed, and we focus on group meetings and team-oriented activities. The benefit of that organization is that we move super fast without having to do crazy hours or work on weekends. We have never had a crunch in the life of the company and we certainly discourage people from taking work back home.”
Facilitate a Work-Life Balance for Your Employees
Fostering a work-life balance for your employees requires a little creativity and discipline, but the results are more often than not positive. Making this a priority can increase employee satisfaction, productivity and company image. So, why not try some of the examples above and reap the rewards yourself?
It’s key to productivity to have a happy workforce or you’ll burn out your most value resource. So, create a work-life balance and have the right tools to make sure when they are on the job, that work is more efficient. ProjectManager is a cloud-based project management software that gives your team the tools to collaborate in real-time, so they can get the job done right and be home for dinner. See how it can help by taking this free 30-day trial.