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Do Remote Employees Actually Have Better Work-Life Balance?

The short answer: It depends.

While virtual employment and flexible scheduling were both touted as the silver bullet to the work-life balance problem, there are reasons to believe that better balance has not been achieved—at least not for some remote workers.

The Blurred Line Between Work and Home

When the clock hits 5 p.m., most traditional nine-to-fivers know to hit the road and go home. But what happens when you’re already home? There’s no visible mass exodus of coworkers to signal to virtual employees to go home. So, some employees end up staying on the clock longer than expected.

Additionally, without a commute to worry about, a remote employee is ready to begin the work day as soon as they hit the power button on their computer. If the morning’s tasks have all been completed, many virtual employees will begin the day early rather than twiddle their thumbs to kill time.

That combination of before-work and after-work conundrums means there are virtual employees out there who inadvertently work longer hours than their in-office counterparts.

The ‘Out Of Sight, Out of Mind’ Effect

Remember that old paradoxical question, “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it still make a sound?” Well, it turns out that some remote employees relate more to the tree in this scenario than many organizations realize. They’re concerned that their efforts aren’t always recognize by their in-office cohorts because it’s more difficult to visually see the work they’re putting in.

In an office setting, we can always see our coworker who’s always meeting with someone, or the team member who is consistently the first one in and the last one out of the office. But are we truly able to appreciate the work of virtual employees? A study conducted by Harvard Business Review says that we don’t. When employees were asked a series of questions regarding their interactions with colleagues, remote employees consistently reported feelings of being mistreated and left out.

What Employers Can Do About It

Most top employers have already realized that the key to creating engaging employee experiences is to accept that there won’t be a one-size-fits all solution that motivates and inspires an organization of unique individuals. Presenting employees with various options including flexible schedules and robust benefits plans are much more likely to catch the eyes of the different personalities within a company.

The same is true for remote workers. To create better work experiences for virtual employees, employers must first learn and understand the unique personalities that exist within their virtual workforce. The same offerings that work for in-office employees may not be as compelling for employees working from home.

To learn even more about the different personality types of remote workers, read the full case study, Virtual Employees: An Employee Experience (EX) Case Study, and begin creating experiences that will suit their unique work styles.