Let’s face it: even if you are working in an in-office job, a certain percentage of your workday is spent doing non-work-related tasks. From ordering a new laptop online for your child to making a medical appointment for your parent, employees have been “homing at work” for a long time. A new infographic from Captivate Network ( a leading digital media company) shows that allowing employees to take care of personal needs while at the office is one of the best ways to help them achieve work-life balance.
According to Captivate’s latest research, a whopping 93 percent of professionals take breaks to do personal errands during the course of their day. Two out of three have shopped online, while half have left the office to run personal errands. That said, 80 percent of white collar workers report having a healthy work-life balance, even though the study showed a 30% increase since 2011 in those clocking in more than nine hours on the job daily.
While it wouldn’t seem to make sense for employees who are working longer hours to experience greater work-life balance, the fact that they are able to take care of personal needs while at the office is likely to be a huge contributing factor in their happiness. In a recent Entrepreneur article, Professor Stewart Friedman (founding director of the Wharton Work/Life Integration Project—a 1 Million for Work Flexibility Supporter) suggests that allowing employees to take care of personal items during work hours can result in a higher work-life satisfaction rate and boosted productivity. Here’s why.
It improves employee focus.
Imagine that you have 10 things to do on your personal to-do list… and you have to wait until 6:00 p.m. when you are home to do them. If you’re like most people, all of these pesky tasks would weigh heavy on your mind until you were able to complete them. This anxiety clutters your mind, and in turn, makes you a less focused employee. By allowing workers to do tasks (both business and personal) as needed, there is less clutter—and more concentration—in their employees’ minds.
It creates an environment focused on results.
According to Friedman, employers should be less focused on the number of hours spent at the office and more in tune to the results that their employees produce. Employee performance should be judged on the work completed, not when, where, or how it is completed. Bosses need to be specific as to what their needs are, and give their workers the independence to complete the tasks at hand. Giving their employees direction as well as the freedom to carry out the work in their own way can greatly improve productivity.
It allows for greater overall flexibility.
Years ago, it was frowned upon to even look at personal email in the workplace. However, as personal life and work life intermingle, it’s obvious that employers cannot expect employees to keep the two mutually exclusive. Friedman suggests that bosses work together with employees to see what sort of work flexibility would be best for them. As he points out, while some jobs require an employee to be on-site, there are many job responsibilities that can be carried out from the comfort of an employee’s home office. As such, Friedman states that employers need to become flexible themselves in their ways of thinking and embrace this new world of work. If they are concerned that granting more freedom to their employees will mean they work less, they can grant work flexibility on a trial basis until both parties are comfortable with the working arrangement.
As work flexibility continues to grow by leaps and bounds, employers are slowly starting to see that what’s really important is not having employees stuck sitting in cubicles from 9-5. Rather, the end goal should be to help their employees achieve work-life satisfaction, which in turn, will make a stronger, more efficient, and more dedicated workforce.
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