Workplace Wellbeing

How to Help Remote Employees Create Healthy Work-Life Balance

As millions of professionals adapt to new work-from-home norms, discover essential strategies to help remote workers achieve a seamless work-life balance.

Written by
photo authr
Katy McWhirter
Clinically reviewed by
photo authr
dad washes the dishes with his young son

Jump to section

    Over the last three years, a significant portion of the American workforce has settled into a new normal. Some now work remotely full-time, while others follow a hybrid model, dividing their time between the office and home. 

    With about 22 million people—or 14% of the workforce—working entirely from home, leading organizations are considering ways to support their teams and cultivate a healthy work-life balance. 

    While remote work offers many benefits for employers and employees—such as enhanced flexibility, increased productivity, and no commute—it also presents certain challenges. 

    A recent study by Buffer reveals that 11% of respondents say being unable to disconnect is their primary struggle with remote work. This highlights the downsides of the constant accessibility and interconnectedness of remote work. 

    As organizations and teams navigate the landscape of full-time remote work, it becomes important to establish an equilibrium of work-life balance, contributing to the overall success of both parties.

    What are the benefits and challenges of working from home?

    For many, working from home has provided endless benefits—including improved focus, enhanced flexibility, and relocation opportunities without considering proximity to the workplace. 

    However, remote work presents its share of challenges among these benefits, often leading employees to struggle with loneliness or a lack of work-home boundaries.

    Benefits of WFH for employees

    A study by the Becker Friedman Institute found that during the COVID-19 pandemic, remote work saved American workers an estimated 60 million hours of commuting time per day. This translates to unspent hours in congested traffic, providing more time and energy for individuals.

    The autonomy granted to employees in structuring their workdays and physical workspaces holds the potential for heightened job satisfaction. The feeling of being trusted by supervisors fosters a deeper commitment to producing quality work, culminating in increased productivity.

    Furthermore, this elevated autonomy safeguards against burnout and reduces missed workdays, bolstering overall efficiency. Remote work also affords individuals more time to prioritize rest, healthy meals, and exercise.

    For many introverted individuals, remote work provides an ideal setting to thrive. The quiet and focused environment allows them to focus on tasks without the draining effects of constant social interaction. Additionally, virtual and written communication platforms enable introverts to contribute thoughtfully to discussions, ensuring their teams recognize and appreciate their insights.       

    Challenges of WFH for employees

    For extroverted individuals, the shift to remote work may result in fewer opportunities for interpersonal communication and collaborative efforts. While virtual meetings align team members, a significant portion of work is conducted in isolation, potentially leading to feelings of solitude.

    The allure of company culture often influences employees’ job decisions. However, remote work arrangements can dilute the impact of an attractive culture, sometimes leading workers to feel disconnected from their organization and colleagues.

    The office’s proximity to a person's living space can blur the lines between work and personal time, potentially leading to burnout. Establishing clear boundaries becomes a challenge. While a dedicated home office space is optimal, many remote workers must make do with shared  areas, resulting in distractions that divert their focus.

    Balancing the advantages and challenges of remote work necessitates thoughtful consideration and proactive measures to ensure well-being and productivity.  

    How can remote work affect mental health?

    The impact of remote work on employees’ mental health is significant, encompassing both positive and negative effects. 

    Understanding the impacts of remote work on mental health can help organizations and leaders retain workers and address concerns early on. 

    • Burnout: When the boundaries between work and personal life are blurred, employees can feel like their workday never ends, leading to burnout.
    • Isolation and loneliness: Some workers can feel isolated and disconnected from their colleagues without regular in-person interactions.
    • Increased stress and anxiety: An IBI study found that 41% of remote workers encountered increased anxiety or depression during the pandemic, indicating that working from home can exacerbate existing mental health issues.
    • Depression: If employees feel their work never ends and they can never truly separate, they face a higher chance of depression since they aren’t getting enough time to rest and disconnect from their jobs. 

    How remote workers can improve work-life balance 

    Remote employees grappling with the challenges of maintaining work-life balance can take several steps to regain stability and restore equilibrium. 

    • Establish a morning and afternoon “commute”: Begin your workday with a pre-work routine that allows you to ease into your tasks. After work, engage in an activity that lets you transition out of work mode. This could be as simple as a short walk or a brief drive around the neighborhood.   
    • Prioritize breaks and time off: Ensure you take regular breaks during your work hours and maximize your time off. Engaging in activities unrelated to work during breaks and vacations can rejuvenate your energy and provide a mental reset. 
    • Embrace physical activity: Recognize the positive impact of exercise on stress reduction and overall well-being. Designate specific times for physical activity, which not only boosts your health, but also aids in switching between work and personal life.
    • Nurture social connections: Beyond interactions with colleagues, connect with fellow remote workers to establish a sense of camaraderie. These connections offer mutual support and a chance to exchange strategies for enhancing work-life balance. 

    How employers and leaders can support work-life balance

    Employers who value work-life balance demonstrate their commitment through meaningful policies reinforcing a healthy company culture. These often include: 

    • Flexible work policies: Allowing employees to get creative with their working space can boost retention rates and enhance overall job satisfaction. For example, Spring Health embraces a work-from-anywhere policy, granting employees autonomy and self-directed work. 
    • Encourage asynchronous work and less meetings: Innovative employers recognize that not everyone does their best work during the traditional 8-5 workday. By facilitating asynchronous work opportunities, they empower employees to set their hours while ensuring productivity and task progression. This approach minimizes meetings, enabling workers to allocate time more effectively.
    • Reimburse learning and development expenses: This can encourage employees to continually grow their skillset, which also increases retention. For example, Spring Health provides employees up to $1,000 in continuing education reimbursement per calendar year. 
    • Train managers for remote leadership: Managing workers virtually requires additional skills for leaders, and employers looking to build a strong workforce recognize this fact. Investing in a remote leadership training course for managers benefits all employees and provides the tools needed to encourage work-life balance.
    • Offer wellness benefits: Whether providing a wellness benefit to reimburse things like gym memberships and massages, professional development funding, access to therapy and coaching services, or company-sponsored child care and elder care, wellness benefits can encourage remote workers to put their mental and physical health first. 
    • Prioritize mental health benefits and initiatives: When employees have the tools they need to be mentally healthy, they can feel their best and be more productive. At Spring Health, all employees have access to our comprehensive mental health benefits, including therapy and coaching.
    • Lead by example: Managers embody their company’s values and culture, influencing employee behavior. Leaders who prioritize their mental health and set clear boundaries between work and personal life can help their teams achieve work-life balance. 

    Embracing employee well-being in the remote work era

    Remote work is a growing and expanding reality that’s here to stay. To support employees and work-life balance, companies must show genuine concern for their mental health and offer services that promote their well-being.

    This can help create a company culture where employees feel valued and have the space to do their best work. The outcome is a working situation where burnout lessens, and the likelihood of retaining valuable team members increases.

    Learn six ways leaders can redefine today’s remote workplaces in a way that reduces stress while boosting productivity and well-being. 

    About the Author
    photo authr
    Katy McWhirter

    Katy McWhirter is an American writer based in Louisville, Kentucky. Her byline appears on USA Today, Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, and Noodle, among others. She has also written three historic biographies, the most recent of which will be released in late 2023.

    About the clinical reviewer
    photo authr

    Stay connected to the latest in mental health!

    Our newsletter delivers expert insights, personal stories, and practical strategies straight to your inbox. Join us to better support your team’s mental health.