How startups can encourage a good work / life balance

How startups can encourage a good work / life balance

It can be challenging to strike that elusive work/life balance at a growing startup. Much like a newborn child, a fledgeling new business needs the most attention in the earlier stages. Whilst it is admirable of staff to try and work all the hours God sends them, management should ensure that staff are not burnt out as a result of excessive over-working. There are plenty of practical ways to help your staff effectively manage their time so they are making the most out of their work hours but equally getting enough quality time out of the office too:


Have a top-down approach

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Placing importance on a good work-life balance should come from the top and trickle down the rest of your business.


Staff are likely to take the lead from management in regards to how they should be managing their time. If they constantly receive work emails outside of office hours and on the weekend, they may feel pressured to respond thus giving them no clear boundaries. Tackle this by responding to work emails during office hours and make a point of flagging non-urgent emails by stressing that they can be actioned at a later date. This way staff will not feel obliged to be on-call and won’t be expected to work the same intense hours as management.


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Flexible work hours

Every employee is different so having flexible hours will help to accommodate everyone’s needs.


Take into consideration the varied needs of your staff, in particular those who are parents, carers or have long commutes to the office. More often than not, they may already feel some guilt due to their current circumstances and how it may conflict with their work. Make it easier for them by implementing flexible start and finish times. Help them to avoid the school run and rush hour traffic with 8am – 7pm shifts so they can choose the hours that most suit them. Perhaps they would prefer to start early and finish that bit earlier to get home in time to cook their kids dinner? They may even be studying so would prefer to finish earlier to get back home to their paperwork; whatever it is, a little flexibility will go a long way.


Introduce remote working

How startups can encourage a good work / life balance

A blend of office and remote working is growing in popularity amongst dynamic teams.


With the rise of project management tools and the popularity of video calling, there’s no excuse not to take advantage of remote working. This privilege doesn’t just have to be reserved for parents or staff on sick leave. Remote working is an attractive employee benefit for all staff and can actually help boost productivity especially for those who face long commutes or even for those who find office banter distracting. Allow staff to be able to opt to work remotely if they prefer the quiet of home when they are report writing or making numerous sales calls for example. Home comforts can help create a more conducive working environment meaning a better standard of work from staff.


Focus on productivity

How startups can encourage a good work / life balance

Quality over quantity is key when it comes to encouraging a good work-life balance – focus on productivity.


Avoid the dreaded clock in culture prevalent at some more traditional workplaces. One of the many benefits of working at a startup is the more relaxed approach they have to work. Outdated or more corporate work practices essentially keep staff chained to their desks during set hours, even if they may have already met their deadlines for the day. Instead, move towards a model that focuses more on productivity and less on clocking in and out. Success should be measured on how many tasks staff can complete not how many hours they spend at their desk.


Encourage actual breaks

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Regular breaks encourage a good work-life balance whilst also boosting the quality of work that’s produced. Take actual breaks from the screen.


As tempting as it can be to work through lunchtime due to an impending deadline, it is important not to allow this to become a habit. Staff should take regular breaks away from their desks, get some fresh air and actually socialise with their colleagues. Let them take the full hour so they can decompress and do any minor admin tasks so they aren’t distracted during work hours.


Outsource to freelancers

How startups can encourage a good work / life balance

It pays to have people who are not as attached to your business to come in and give an outsider’s perspective. Your staff will also appreciate the support.


Many startups will testify that freelancers are relied on as the lifeblood of their business and they usually play a vital role in supporting business growth. Staff should be able to manage their workload but if new projects are coming in faster than they can manage, it’s worth considering outsourcing them to freelancers. This will not only help lighten the load for staff who may be overwhelmed, it will also allow the business to scale quickly with an on-demand team of experts.


Instil a positive company culture

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Instil a positive company culture to attract and keep the very best staff.


To improve employee retention, recruit new talent and keep staff happy, ensure you foster a welcoming company culture that keeps staff engaged. Considering how much time we spend in the office, look at practical ways you can make it a home from home. Invest in a fully stocked kitchen with all the mod cons and perhaps allocate a budget for additional perks like gym memberships. If the budget will stretch, away days and socials are also great team building activities that give staff a moment to escape the office and let their hair down. Finally, if your building landlord gives permission, why not invite pets to the office? Dogs in particular, are proven to reduce stress levels in busy offices so a furry friend could make the perfect office visitor.


About us

At Canvas offices, we pride ourselves on designing bespoke spaces so you can feel at home at work. Our offices are carefully crafted to reflect, embrace and celebrate the entrepreneurial spirit so prevalent across our member companies. If you’re looking for flexible office space that has great facilities and helps foster a great work/life balance, get in touch on 0203 900 0565 or email

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