Tax season is finally over. Well, except for the extensions. And for many firms, this is normally the time for staff to take a well-earned vacations. While these are still far from normal times, slowly but steadily we seem to be getting back to some semblance of what life was like pre-pandemic.
While you’re re-evaluating your firm’s processes and technologies – which you should do every year after tax season – this is also be a good time to determine how your firm will get back to normal. Will you be back in the office, or remain remote? For most firms, the answer is probably somewhere in between. And the decision you make will be a critical factor in retaining and recruiting talented staff in the future, because it is a central component of work-life balance.
Younger professionals might prefer working from home, so they can attend their kids’ school activities and sporting events, as well as have more flexibility in planning vacations and family time. Others might prefer to spend more time outdoors or pursue hobbies, while also being fully productive and essential staff members. After all, most work doesn’t really have to be done between 8am and 5pm. It just needs to be done by an agreed-upon time or deadline.
Here are a few tips that can help your firm, and your staff, have a more fulfilling and productive work-life balance.
During the Workday:
- Be realistic with work goals. When you have a prioritized list of achievable goals, the end result is more rewarding and fulfilling. Having multiple “little wins” throughout the day can add up and make staff feel better than simply measuring based on the overall result.
- Be a clear communicator. If you’re falling behind, don’t let the stress of it pile up. Let your supervisor or colleagues know, and if you are the boss, then ask your staff for help. You don’t have to be a superhero all the time.
- Take a work break. Even if you’re working from home, take a break several times in the morning and afternoon. Taking a few minutes to walk or do a quick household task can reinvigorate you and give you a fresh perspective.
- Listen to your favorite music. In an office environment, you might have to keep it low, but at home you can really rock out. Music has been shown to have beneficial effects, including reducing stress and anxiety, improving your mood and memory, and even easing pain.
- Exercise. I’ll bet many professionals got off track on their exercise routines due to COVID. It’s time to get back on the treadmill, track or whatever you like to do. Your heart will thank you, and so will your waistline. Exercise also reduces stress, and just makes you feel better.
- Turn off your phone sometimes. It does have an off button, and very few jobs have critical issues that must be resolved within minutes all the time. Sure, sometimes during the year there could be issues that require urgent action, but not always. And parental concerns notwithstanding, take the chance to unplug and unwind. Your apps and games and email will still be there when you turn it back on. Try it for at least an hour a night.
- Make time for family and friends. It may seem like we’ve all grown more distant during COVID, but it’s time to get back together. Add time with family and friends to your calendar if it helps you remember. Relaxing with the people who matter the most can keep you sane, even if some of them are crazy themselves.
- Have friends over on a work night. Yes, you’re allowed to do this. A nice meal and bottle of wine with some non-work-related conversation never hurt anyone. Be sensible, of course, since you do still need to be productive the next day.
- Get involved. Being involved in community activities, faith groups, hobbies and other activities will help you make new friends and keep your mind off work.
Sleep and eat right. If you work from home, your sleeping patterns might have shifted during COVID, but sleep is a critical factor in being healthy. And so are healthy (or at least healthier) foods.