Five ways technology can help improve team wellbeing
Research shows that more than half of UK SME owners work either six or seven days per week, blurring the lines between life and work. With the growing popularity of remote working, it’s certain this blurred line may increase. But a stressed out leader could lead to a stressed out team. We spoke to Elle Baldry who advises business owners and their employees on how to achieve a better work-life balance, principally by using technology to free up their time.
Elle explains ‘My mission is to help people find the time in their life to do the things that they love to do. By reducing things like unnecessary admin, business owners can find that extra time that can be essential for their wellbeing.’
Elle knows first-hand the potential impact of working very long hours and endless travelling over a prolonged period, experiencing burn out as a project manager on a high-profile project. She comments ‘I was completely knackered! I had just hit 30 and realised I couldn’t do this anymore.’
The experience directly led to her career pivot, setting up her own consulting company. Now she helps business owners avoid a similar situation and avoid burning out, as well as advising them on how to ensure health and wellbeing throughout their wider business.
Leaders are paying closer attention to their employees’ wellbeing, but they shouldn’t do so at the expense of their own, since this might have a negative impact on their employees. As a result, we asked Elle how technology can help.
- Streamline your processes to save time
At the heart of Elle’s approach is to use technology to drive efficiency and save time. She comments ‘If you identify your processes, you can invariably use technology to automate and streamline them to be more efficient. I worked with a photography business and reduced their admin time by 70%. Now the owner has one day off a week to spend with their child. In finding that extra time you can really look after yourself and craft a wellbeing experience for your team.’
By streamlining business processes, employees can concentrate less on admin tasks and more on strategic tasks, as well as creating time for further learning and development opportunities they may have.
With Microsoft Office 365, there are several features that can help streamline your business. Being able to edit live Word documents with your team eliminates the need for lengthy follow-up emails, while Yammer means you can connect with people across your organisation faster.
- Connect with employees
Remote working in some cases is now a normal part of people’s job, and for many, it is now what they prefer. However, for some, this may result in feelings of isolation and loneliness. It’s important that business owners try to replicate some of the social interactions that would normally happen in the office. Elle believes communication apps with video can help alleviate this. And, if it’s not possible on a video link, a simple phone call to check in with your team regularly will make a big impact.
‘Remote working isn’t always easy, but you can use technology to connect with people at a human level. Just using apps like Microsoft Teams and Zoom to have an informal video chat with your team now and then means you can start building those relationships with your employees. Don’t underestimate the difference that sense of connection across your team can make, but also understand that not everyone would prefer to use video on all forms of communication.’
- Manage your own time
When you run your own business, it requires discipline to carefully manage their own time to avoid the long hours that can lead to burn out. Setting a good example, also means your employees are likely to follow suit.
Elle comments ‘I use my calendar to set reminders to stop working. At the end of the day a message comes up every 15 minutes saying, should you still be working? Three times a week I try and finish early to make sure I’m getting out and about.’
‘To help with time management, I also always tackle my biggest goal at the start of the day. Project management tools like Asana and collaboration tools like Slack really help me stay organised and work in a structured way.’
- Avoid distractions
Technology can be a double edge-sword. It could make us more productive, but the distractions that come from apps continually pinging messages or succumbing to the temptation to endlessly check your emails could make us less efficient. It could also be associated with information overload, while ‘context switching’ between multiple apps could contribute to fatigue. However, there are apps that could help.
Elle comments ‘There are several focus apps that turn certain applications off on your phone or computer for a set period of time. When I’m working on a report, I can turn off my emails and I can’t access that until the countdown timer has stopped. It really helps me to maintain focus and avoid distractions.’
- Leverage health and wellbeing apps
There are also a range of apps that could directly support business owners and employees alike with their wellbeing.
Elle remarks ‘There’s a whole of ecosystem of health and wellbeing apps that help you to look after yourself. Apps like Headspace and Calm provide guided meditations and mindfulness sessions that help reduce anxiety and support better sleep. Others like Moodnotes help you to track your mood each day and be more aware of your stress levels.’
Other offerings provide access to content and advice. Elle comments ‘There’s an app called Sprout which is a wellness and recognition portal with lots of content and features, such as being able to access coaches and organise a health assessment. There’s also WRAP – the Wellness Recovery Action Plan – an app/process that employers can use to find the right tools for their employees and leaders.
Find out more about how Elle helps small businesses by visiting her website. And you can also check out six tips to improve the wellbeing of your employees.
If you’re a small business looking for ways to adapt? Take a look at how we can help your business flex and get the most out of your digital tools.
Please note that O2 do not necessarily recommend or endorse any of the apps or sources mentioned in this article.