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Lessons from Leading Remote: Work-Life Integration

remote work May 18, 2022

My challenge with working remotely during the pandemic was the collision of all the parts of my life. Working, leading, schooling at home, managing stress, re-defining ways to sustain relationships and so much more was suddenly dropped into my lap like a tangled ball of yarn. 

Last week my 10 year old daughter was home sick from school for two days. My stress level increased, I was short-tempered, and this out-of-proportion sense of overwhelm settled in. Then, I realized there was more going on than my 2-day juggling act. Memories and feelings from that previous season when life and work collided were leaking out in my current experience.

During the pandemic, pieces of our life were tossed in a blender and all mixed up. The result: not only do people desire more flexibility, they need it in order to manage the tangled pieces of life that have intersected with greater significance over the last two years.

What have we learned from remote work about our lines around work and life?

People want more freedom and autonomy in managing home life with work responsibilities not just because it’s a work perk, but because their life now demands it. And, we found that working at home with more autonomy to integrate life and home actually led to increases in productivity. We expected the pull of kids at home, life responsibilities, and the stress of world events to lead to a significant decrease in productivity. Instead, we learned that people are resilient and more productive when they have freedom to find their own work and life rhythms.

This is not to say that working from home is “paradise”. For some people they are never off work. They have lost the opportunity to decompress from work through a commute. The loss of social interactions has been emphasized as a significant detriment to remote work. Therefore, sorting through the tangles of managing work and life to find intentional rhythms of integration is best found in conversations.

How can we navigate the push and pull of both work and life?

Whether you continue working remotely, shift to a hybrid model or return to co-located work, this conversation becomes an important workplace discussion. With an increasing number of workers seeking opportunities that fit with their life values, leaders can no longer ignore the increased desire to find a rhythm of life integration that works. And it’s different for everyone – so the one-size-fits all policy is harder to maintain. That’s why conversations prove to be the best tool to help our people navigate the push and pull of both work and life.

How do we help our teams find rhythms to live integrated lives?

Engage in conversations with your team about what they need to bring their best self to the table and remain productive rather than overwhelmed and stressed. Let’s brainstorm some ways you can talk about healthy work-life integration for your team:

  • Talk about what boundaries work. Check out a recent interview with Eric Bailey on Setting Purposeful Boundaries at Work for ideas to engage the conversation.
  • Plan experiments in quarterly cycles. The world is changing fast, even as we find what rhythms work today, they might need to change tomorrow. Set quarterly reviews.
  • Designate “core hours” for team availability. Rather than always “on call '' establish a core routine when the team can be available for meetings, communication, collaboration. Then, offer flexibility and work autonomy outside core hours.
  • Create space for honest conversation. Create space that makes it okay to talk about challenges at home without risk of judgment or consequence. As leaders it starts with you – being vulnerable about challenges, sharing your attempts to address the challenges, inviting input or advice. 

Let’s Hear From You!

What has worked for you or your team to work together to co-create ways to navigate work-life integration whether your team is remote, hybrid or co-located? Comment below! Let’s learn from the experiences of each other!

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