Work-life balance is by no means a new phenomenon, but it’s something we’re hearing more about due to the ever-increasing demands, pressures and changes to the way we work. Companies are investing time and effort into finding the holy grail of work-life balance and how it can be achieved to stop their people going into burnout.
In May 2019, the World Health Organisation classified burnout as an ‘occupational phenomenon’ and it’s estimated that the cost to the global economy is billions.
This article will cover:
- What is work-life balance?
- Why it’s so important to achieve a good balance?
- What Microsoft tools are available to support us with this?
What is work-life balance?
Work–life balance is the equilibrium between personal life and career work.
Put simply, it’s about striking a healthy balance between your working life and your personal life.
Many people think that achieving a good balance is about cutting out activities. But what happens if you can’t do less work or you have many personal commitments? Can you still achieve a balance?
Achieving and maintaining a good work-life balance is about finding the sweet spot. It isn’t defined as an even split of work or life but does mean setting priorities, simplifying your schedule and learning time management techniques to provide enough opportunity for both elements.
Sounds simple right? So why do so many people struggle to find that sweet spot and continue to plough headstrong into burnout?
Why work-life balance is so important?
When we have too many obligations that require so much energy and time, we can approach burnout. On the other hand, if we avoid having any such work or life commitments, we could easily end up in a very dull and meaningless existence. There has to be a balance.
So why is it so important?
- Reduces stress
- Improves mental and physical health
- Improves productivity
- Creates better engagement with work
How Microsoft is paving the way in work-life balance
Howard Lewis, Surface Business Group Lead at Microsoft UK, said: “UK organisations have a duty of care to their employees and small changes can make a big difference. It’s not just about introducing a flexible working policy and hoping for the best. Organisational leaders must be role models for their employees, equip them with the tools to make flexible working work and, most importantly of all, communicate the value that these kinds of policies can have for an organisation – both in terms of employee wellbeing and the bottom line.”
Microsoft is leading the cause to reverse the trend of increases in work-related stress and are calling on companies to equip their employees with the technology to help them strike a better work-life balance. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, by equipping employees with the right tools, they can begin to restore the balance they need.
Let’s take a look at some of the tools in Microsoft 365 that can help.
Microsoft has gone one step further with the recent introduction of Viva; an employee experience platform that brings together communications, knowledge, learning, resources, and insights. Viva has been designed to foster a culture where people and teams are empowered to be their best from anywhere.
There are four areas in Viva that all come together for an unrivalled employee experience but the main element to support with maintaining a work-life balance is Viva Insights.
Viva Insights helps people and businesses thrive with data-driven, privacy-protected insights and recommendations to improve productivity and wellbeing. There’s Personal Insights, which is only visible to an individual, and Manager and Leader Insights, which is an aggregated view and can help managers spot work patterns that could lead to burnout.
Manager Insights provides much-needed visibility into work patterns that might lead to burnout and stress such as meeting overload, too little focus time or time worked outside of their core hours.
Using data driven from Microsoft 365, Manager Insights provides research-backed tips and suggested actions to identify the main challenges they need to address with their teams to achieve balance and better working habits.
From a dashboard, Managers can see if their team members are regularly working after-hours or if they have too many meetings and not enough downtime.
Managers can use these insights to help their teams strike a balance between productivity and wellbeing. For example, if there’s a lot of after work activity, gather feedback as to why they need to do the extra hours or if it seems to be because of meeting overload, discuss how this could be reduced and the time used more productively.
Over time, the data becomes even richer giving managers the opportunity to create team action plans which they can track and assess against longer-term team goals.
This level of connectivity, visibility and care from managers goes a long way to reducing the ongoing stress that can lead to burnout.
Personal Insights lets your people view how they’re working and by summarising their Microsoft data (emails, meetings, calls and chats), provides recommendations for building better work habits.
In the Personal Insights app, they can use the Stay Connected tab to maintain strong relationships and collaborate with colleagues.
With one of the symptoms of burnout being distancing themselves from their work, staying connected with colleagues and receiving reminders to schedule 1:1s or upcoming meetings is so important.
Employees who feel connected, have a sense of purpose and having an impact on others can counter the feeling of burnout.
In addition, the Protect Time experience makes it easy for users to schedule focus time so that they can work uninterrupted—before the day fills up with meetings. It helps to eliminate distractions so they can focus on your core priorities and remain productive.
The Virtual Commute experience has been designed to create a better work and home-life transition. It helps to put boundaries and structure in place which a physical commute once provided.
Teams will offer the opportunity to schedule time to prepare for work, whether that’s a walk or planning out your day over coffee. End-of-the-day commutes can be scheduled (with reminders as below) and customised with prompts of reflection, celebrate accomplishments and meditate with Headspace to make sure you fully disconnect.
Partnership with Headspace
Following on from that, Microsoft has announced a partnership with global leader in mindfulness and meditation, Headspace. The integration with Teams will launch this year and offers science-supported mindfulness and meditations.
A Microsoft study on the Future of Work found that people felt like they were always ‘on’ as the boundaries between work and home blurred. Aimed at helping employees focus or de-stress, the integration with Headspace allows people to schedule recurring time to meditate from Teams. They can add it as part of their morning ‘commute’ to help them focus for the day, to prepare for a big meeting or to unwind and disconnect at the end of the working day.
Finding a good work-life balance is no longer out of our control and in the hands of the employer. Microsoft 365 is giving people the tools to help them make changes to the way they work by providing AI-generated and research-backed recommendations. Having the insight, tools and knowledge to start to make those small changes will have a huge effect impact on the way you manage your day.
We hope this article on ‘How to manage work-life balance with Microsoft 365’ has really given you some insight into what tools are already available and where Microsoft is paving the way for a more sustainable, happy and healthy way of working.
If you need further information on Microsoft 365 or how it can help your business, please email [email protected] or contact us via the form below.