I run a small business. I’m a new owner but have managed the day to day affairs of The Guild Associates (GA) for many years (with some guidance). Work life balance is a concept that is used frequently throughout the TAPP website and constantly appears in the media. Work life balance can take many forms: working from home; a varied work schedule, how time off is administered, etc.
Personally, I struggle with work/life balance especially the working from home scenario. Perhaps part of the issue is that I abhor voice mail and automatic phone trees. I think that they are a way to torture the caller.
Press 1 if you are nice, press 2 if you have a complaint, press 3 if you want to hold for a long time, press 4 if you think you know your party’s name (but they may not be listed)…. Ok it’s not that bad but it can feel unwelcoming and non-helpful.
At GA, we have made a commitment to our clients that our phones will be answered by a live person Monday- Friday, 9 am – 5 pm. In fact we didn’t even have individual voice mail until last spring. I think that leaving a message with an individual reduces the amount of telephone tag. It’s more efficient and provides a higher level of customer service because the staff member answering the phone often knows the answer to the caller’s question, eliminating the need for a message. Even with call forwarding, I’m not sure how to achieve that high level of responsiveness.
Another issue which is often overlooked, and concerns me, is that it may be harder for an employee to stop working outside of hours if they work from home or have calls forwarded. I consider it a benefit that staff rarely are required to work over time.
So for a small business how do you achieve work-life balance? Is it a priority? Are there different standards for employees vs. the owners/principals? Have you successfully implemented telecommuting?
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