The importance of work-life balance
Job burnout. It’s the reason up to half of workers move on to greener pastures—and it’s your biggest threat to building a team that’s invested in you and the work you’re doing.
Setting clear boundaries between work and home is a bold move that can make your team feel like valued humans, not hamsters on a wheel.
And the research is clear: Work-life fit matters—a lot. It’s is the #1 predictor of job satisfaction and #2 for employee engagement and retention.
Lots of folks say work-life balance is a myth. We say it’s totally possible. In fact, it’s been a core part of our company culture since day 1.
Here’s how we strike a healthy balance and how to make it work for your team.
1. Stick to 36 hours a week
You might think keeping your team productive in just 36 hours a week is impossible, but hear us out.
Cofounders John Correlli and Nathan Gilmore learned the value of constraints early on, building TeamGantt on just 4 hours a week in the beginning. By the time TeamGantt became their full-time gig, having 40 hours to get work done felt like pure luxury.
“If we could do what we did with just 4 hours a week, why would we need to work 60 or 80?” Nathan explains.
It all comes down to Parkinson’s law, which says, “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” In other words, your team will use the time they have to get the work done, no matter how many hours you give them each week.
When Nathan and John scaled TeamGantt’s work week down to 36 hours a few years ago, it wasn’t an overnight decision. They took a slow approach, rolling it out in phases before taking the final leap.
Here’s what that rollout looked like:
- Year 1: Half-day Fridays in the summer
- Year 2: Half-day Fridays in the summer + during the holiday season
- Year 3: Half-day Fridays in the summer + during the holiday season
- Year 4: Half-day Fridays for a 6-month trial
All those tests checked out, so we made the switch for good. Our team can attest, nothing motivates you to work smart like knowing you get to enjoy half-day Fridays each and every week! 🙌
2. Minimize distractions
When you’ve only got 36 hours a week to make a difference, distractions can be costly. That’s why it’s important to create an environment that enables your team to stay focused on the work that matters most so they can finish the day on time and be fully present at home.
We recommend these distraction-free tips.
Want your team to make a bigger impact? Let them work remotely.
Eliminating distractions is the biggest reason we built a 100% remote team, and we haven’t looked back since. In fact, we’d venture to say 3 remote workers could be just as productive as 6 office workers.
Remote work might sound like a sure way to kill productivity. But today’s open-office environment is already doing it for you. More than half of high-performance workers say open offices are too distracting and lack private spaces for problem-solving.
So how do you make remote work work? Equip your team with the power of prioritization, and make it easy for them to schedule their day so the most important tasks get tackled first.
Keep meetings to a minimum
Meetings are a classic time-suck that all-too-often throw teams off-course.
“If people are in meetings all day, they can’t get work done,” Nathan says. “Just be protective of their time to ensure they’re getting hours every day to work.”
Before you schedule a meeting, ask yourself these questions to ensure it’s truly necessary:
- Will it help everyone attending?
- Will it help our clients or customers?
- Does it support our overarching business goals?
If a meeting really is the best way to get things done, keep the invites to a minimum, and be intentional about keeping it on track.
Allow people to “go dark” for focused periods
In today’s culture of constant notifications, we’ve become accustomed to putting urgency on things that don’t move business forward. Every interruption that takes you off task adds extra time to the work that needs to get done because of the time it takes to ramp back up.
That’s why we give our team permission to hang up the Do Not Disturb sign when they need to hunker down and knock out a big project. It allows them to stay focused and makes our work much more efficient in the end.
3. Respect boundaries
Work-life balance can’t happen without clear boundaries. And as a leader, it’s up to you to ensure they stay firmly in place for your team.
Here are a few simple ways to do that.
Set an example
Experts say burnout is a company problem, not a personal problem. If you truly want to provide better work-life balance for your team, change has to happen from the top down.
It’s hard for your team to feel okay sticking to 36 hours a week if burning the midnight oil is your norm. That’s why you’ve got to walk the walk.
Give yourself permission to step away from your computer—and, yes, even your phone—at the end of the day. Regularly recharging your batteries not only shows your team that work-life balance matters to you. It also keeps you energized so you can bring your best to work every day.
Be an advocate
Several years ago, I had a leader tell me it was my job to protect my boundaries, and she was right. That was a big turning point for me because I was struggling miserably to navigate working motherhood.
But what if your team didn’t have to fight for family time? What if you were the kind of leader who proactively ensured their work-life boundaries stayed intact? Research shows you could reduce your team members’ potential for burnout by about 70%. That’s huge!
Take family time into consideration for team travel
Team members who travel for work are giving up a lot of family time. But few companies acknowledge the sacrifice.
You may not always be able to keep work travel to weekdays, but do your best to keep weekends sacred whenever possible. For example, when we plan our team meetups each year, Mondays and Fridays serve as travel days, and we schedule our actual team time for Tuesday-Thursday.
Up next: Communicate well and collaborate wisely
Want to know another way to keep work on track so your team has a healthy work-life balance? Be intentional about how you interact with each other.
Want to help your team work smarter?
TeamGantt makes it easy to eliminate confusion, streamline communication, and beat project deadlines. Even better, you’ll save time and energy on project setup so you can focus on doing the work that matters most.
Of course, don’t just take our word for it. Give TeamGantt a free try to see for yourself!