As a leader, how are you engaging your employees in the discussions about how your organization will exist coming out of this pandemic? Over the course of the last 18 months, employees have navigated a myriad of challenges to creatively find ways to perform their jobs.

One of the behaviors that has been exacerbated by the work from home requirement caused by the pandemic is the idea that “I must ALWAYS be on.” There is this belief that, because my supervisors and peers cannot see me working, if I don’t instantly respond to an email, phone call, or message, I will be perceived as slacking off or uncommitted. This mentality has led to increased levels of stress and burnout.

In some cases, this entrapment is a product of company culture, where the expectation truly is that you are accessible outside of standard business hours. The question for leaders in these environments is, have we created unhealthy work standards? Sometimes, what starts out as an “if there is an emergency, we need to be able to reach you” morphs over time into a practice of leaders and coworkers sending emails after business hours and asking for a response before the next workday is to begin.

In other cases, though, employees do this to themselves. When an email or message comes through after hours, they feel compelled to address it, blaming the company, or the sender, without pausing to question where this expectation is actually coming from.

As a leader, I would offer that this is an opportunity for you to look not only at the policies and processes but the practices that exist within your organization. For the health and well-being of your employees, perhaps it is time to re-evaluate this “always on” mentality and to create a more balanced approach to life and work, implementing reasonable boundaries.

How might a new approach to work allow you to attract and engage top talent now and into the future? How might it better serve not only your employees but your customers and stakeholders as well?

I’d welcome your thoughts on how you’re ideating what the next evolution of work might look like, and how you’re engaging those impacted to help shape this future.