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Work-Life Balance: How To Cure The Summertime Blues

July 21, 2016

work-life balance

It’s summer, and you’re likely dreaming of the beach—but with targets to hit and competition just as fierce, most companies can’t afford to slack off. With the long days and hot weather, work-life balance can be hard to achieve.

In the summer, managers are faced with challenges that are unique to this season. The two biggest ones:

  • Vacation and flexible schedules
  • Interns and other temporary workers

Smart companies are offering more flexibility—great news for most employees. With a shift in schedules in the summer, it’s common to see people leave early. Some don’t work on Fridays, to create a long weekend. Others stockpile PTO to take extra time off to enjoy the weather, take vacations to cooler climes, or spend time with kids on break.

Vacations help your staff reap the benefits of work-life balance, but scheduling meetings and getting things done can be tougher when people aren’t around.  How can you make progress when half the team are out of the office at any given time? Three ideas for working around shifting schedules:

  • Schedule Ahead: You may not be able to have everyone around at once, but you can make a team schedule. Knowing in advance when people are out means you can make the most of when they are all (or mostly) in together. If there are weeks where more people are available, schedule some catch-up or coordination meetings when they are.
  • Work Independently: Make a game plan to work on projects that can be pursued solo. Have everyone on the team pick one goal, whether it’s updating documentation, taking professional development courses, or working on a project alone. You can always find projects that require a minimum of collaboration if you look for them. Take advantage of the quieter times, when many people are out of the office.
  • Leverage Technology: If there’s no overlap between vacations to plan and coordinate, use technology to keep people up to date on what happened while they were gone. Project management tools or wikis are good ways to stay on the same page when you aren’t in the same room!

Summer also often brings an influx of interns and student workers. While the idea of free/cheap labor sounds great, these resources can’t just be left to their own devices. Make the most of the extra staff by planning ahead. Here are some things to consider if you want to engage summer interns:

  • Make Space: Even though interns are often temporary, no one enjoys sitting on a milk crate in the corner, or being stuck out in the hallway. Create some dedicated space, whether it’s a shared conference room or a desk in your office.
  • Have a Project List: One of the biggest complaints interns have is being stuck doing mindless work like copying or getting coffee, instead of defined tasks. Come up with some specific jobs—research projects are great ways to keep interns engaged and productive. Have them come up with a few things they’d like to know about customers or competitors. Then create projects for one or more of your staff to answer those questions.
  • Throw a Party: Part of the intern experience is about meeting people and making connections. Social events or other networking opportunities facilitate making contacts and learning professional networking skills.
  • Say Thanks: Many interns are working for the experience, and for a nominal amount of money. Appreciate their efforts, and let them know it.

Summer can be a challenging time in terms of work-life balance, but there are great opportunities to leverage flexible schedules and summer interns to be productive and enjoy a little time off as well!

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Organizational skills are necessary to deal with shifting schedules, staffing, and workloads. Use AMA's seminars and resources to learn how to keep everything running smoothly.
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About The Author

Katy Tynan is an expert in the future of work. She is the author of Survive Your Promotion, and her upcoming book is How Did I Not See This Coming: The New Manager’s Guide to Avoiding Total Disaster (ATD Press, November 2017). Tynan is chief talent strategist at CoreAxis Consulting.

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