Two people in an office meeting with coworkers working remotely on video.
If your business can't function with employees working remotely full time, there are several other ways you can support their work-life balance. — Getty Images/Luis Alvarez

The pandemic made remote work a necessity, and as workplaces return to the new normal, employees are expecting a continuation of remote working perks. Data shows that 10,000 employees reported they were just as productive working from home as they were from their workplace.

As employees trickle back into the office, some employers are ready to keep them going at a 9-to-5 pace while employees may desire a more flexible work schedule. Here’s how to negotiate when employees want to work from home — but you need them in the office.

Create a hybrid work model

A hybrid work model allows employees to split their time between working in an office and working from home. Employees often prefer a hybrid work model because it increases flexibility and creates a better work-life balance. There are several variations of the hybrid work model companies can choose to implement, such as a “hybrid at-will” policy in which employees have the option of choosing which days they prefer to come into the office. Other policies include hybrid split-week, hybrid manager-scheduling, and hybrid mix.

A hybrid work model does not require employees to constantly be in the office, giving companies a chance to broaden their talent search. Instead of exclusively looking for new hires in a centralized location, companies have the opportunity to look for specialists around the globe. In addition to a wider talent pool, hybrid work models also reduce exposure to illness. Since the pandemic hit, people are more hesitant to return to settings involving large groups of people. A hybrid work model means fewer people in the office, reducing the risk of an illness spreading.

[Read more: How to Schedule a Hybrid Work Week]

Offer flexible schedules

Today’s workforce is made up of busy parents, commuters, and businesspeople with various personal and professional work needs. Providing employees with flexible scheduling options — such as letting moms come to work late so they can drop their kids off at school or counting employees’ commutes as part of their work day — can help alleviate some of the day-to-day pressure.

To keep your employees happy and invested in their job, allow them to choose between different flexible scheduling options. While you may be hesitant to offer anything other than a typical 9-to-5 work day, your employees will appreciate the accommodation and may show an increase in productivity now that you’re catering to their needs.

[Read more: How to Offer Flexible Schedules to Employees]

Overworking your employees can lead to emotional, physical, and mental stress. Encourage breaks throughout the day when they demonstrate feelings of overwhelm or exhaustion, offer a mental health day if you see an employee struggling, or even arrange to have group exercise or meditation sessions with your staff.

Prioritize employees’ work-life balance

There are several ways to prioritize your employees’ work-life balance while still meeting your business’s needs:

  • Support employee health: Overworking your employees can lead to emotional, physical, and mental stress. Encourage breaks throughout the day when they demonstrate feelings of overwhelm or exhaustion, offer a mental health day if you see an employee struggling, or even arrange to have group exercise or meditation sessions with your staff.
  • Implement healthy boundaries: Staff can become overwhelmed if they are constantly bombarded with emails and calls outside of work hours. To prevent burnout, make sure you are implementing healthy boundaries between you and your workers, and encourage them to do the same.
  • Remind staff to use their PTO: Encouraging your staff to take their paid time off or sick days will promote a positive and supportive work environment. Providing the time they need to rest and relax will in turn enhance their productivity and help them stay motivated.
  • Open communication: Your employees shouldn’t be fearful of coming to you with any personal issues impacting their work performance. Make it clear from the start that you are open to listening to any questions, concerns, or problems they may have with a non-judgmental ear.

If you’re still grappling with the idea of flexible scheduling, meet with your employees one-on-one. This gives employees a chance to explain why a flexible schedule would be beneficial for them and how it will affect the company as a whole. Open communication allows the employer the opportunity to negotiate a happy medium in which the employee is able to complete their workload while still achieving a better work-life balance.

[Read more: How You Can Give Your Employees Work-Life Balance]

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published September 08, 2022