What Is the Importance of Work-Life Balance Apps for Employees and Employers?
Technology has helped to improve human life in various aspects like studies, work, and health and leisure activities. People can live longer, healthier lives because of technological advancements. It has changed the way people access information, plan activities, communicate with one another and complete their personal and professional tasks. Technology has been recently introduced in the aspect of work-life balance of the human beings. It has made the workplace more flexible and organized and additionally has given workers a chance to balance their personal life with their work life without affecting the quality and productivity of their work. It has also given access to global market information to workers without having them moved from their work location. This has helped the organizations to increase the quality of their work and save a lot of time.
The purpose of this report is to get an insight into a number of applications that enable the employees and employers to achieve balance in their professional and personal life. The features of certain apps have been discussed along with how the employees can use these apps to maximize their productivity. The report also contains the implication of technology in attaining this balance for both workers and their bosses. The importance of work-life balance has also been discussed (Rampton, 2015).
Due to technological advancement, every aspect of human life is directly or indirectly dependent on technology. In the hectic routine of work, people seek the assistance of technology to attain balance in their personal and professional life. Every industry is growing at a very fast pace and this speed demands the employees to work around the clock in order to maximize productivity. In this process, the companies tend to forget the importance of leisure time in the life of workers. In the recent times several applications have been developed using technology to help the organization and its employees to create a balance in their work life and their personal life (Kehl, 2012). Some of these applications have been discussed below along with their features and benefits.
Instapaper is an application used to save and retain the articles for reading those offline in order to use your free time to read them, rather than reading them during work. This helps to not get distracted during the workday in reading irrelevant content. As the application allows you to read the content offline, the articles can be accessed while commuting. It also provides an option to strip away clutter and allows you to personalize the content on the basis of your taste and preferences. As one reads, the content can be highlighted, quotes can be saved and the articles can be narrated from text to speech. The content can also be organized according to date, length and popularity. The basic version of the application is free to download (Dishman, 2015). A paid version gives access to unlimited highlights, full-text search for articles in your account, and unlimited speed reading and is available for $3 per month or $30 per year.
Headspace is a meditation app that can be used to practice mind relaxation techniques. The app has been developed to provide the users with a step by step meditation guide in order to provide mindful awareness and burst stress. Once the application is downloaded, a 10-minute foundational meditation course is provided access to. The application also provides the feature of a personalized development track data. Headspace can also be used to relieve stress that is piling up from work, relationships, happiness and mental health (Eyl, 2015). The app also has a buddy feature where a person can constantly use the support of his friends to stay positive and encouraged. The app is free of cost on iOS and android and can be renewed by paying $13 per month or $95 annually.
BreakFree is an app used to track an individual’s smart phone addiction and assists in breaking it by making a record of the amount of time an individual spends on it. The main purpose of the app is to provide guidance to control the usage of phone and gives information about the purpose an individual is using the phone or by sending an alert if the individual has been using the phone for too long. For instance, if someone is using the phone for over an hour or is spending too much time on a particular app, it will send a reminder to the individual about putting the phone away. The app also records an “addiction score” which allows the user to figure out if they are getting better or worse with their addiction (Messinger, 2015). This app is available on both iOS and Android free of cost.
The Cozi Family Organizer is designed to stay on top of one’s schedule, and also of everyone in your family. This app enables the user to monitor where everyone should be and how to avoid overlapping of everyone’s schedule. A color-coded calendar can be designed which allows the addition and editing of several appointments, setting up of reminders and get a view of the schedule of the entire family at once (Miller, 2016). This app can be used by families to coordinate their grocery lists, their shopping trips and click and share photographs in order to create family memories. It helps to keep the family members in touch with each other in the midst of everybody’s busy schedules. This app is also available for free on iOS and Android.
Toggl is a very famous work related application that allows its users to stay on top of their working hours by analyzing and recording the time spent by an individual on a number of different projects. The time tracker sheet in the app records task times and provides analyses on how an individual has spent his/her day (Prokopets, 2014). The app can be used on both mobile devices and desktop. The timer recorder can be synced to the cloud and all the data that has been collected can be secured under the name of one account. The application takes the help of third party apps, like Trello to record and manage the details of the users’ everyday schedule
Be Focused allows the workers to introduce quick breaks throughout their workday in the middle of their tasks. The purpose behind these breaks is to re-energize the mind and increase overall productivity of the employees. It also helps to keep the employees motivated and focused. The workers can set the duration of the breaks along with their frequency on a particular workday. It helps the employees to remain flexible in making their time-table for the workday. The app rings an alarm whenever the time for taking a break arrives, even if the app is running in the background (Sheridan, 2016). The user can see the record about how many breaks have been taken already and how many are remaining while working on one particular project. The app is available for free on iOS and the pro version is available for $1.99.
Way of Life is an application that helps the users to develop and maintain good habits. It keeps the user updated with their daily goals that include professional work, fitness goals, eating healthy and any other positive habit that the user might want to retain. The app uses different color schemes to recognize, record and eventually makes modifications in the users’ habits. This way the user can observe how successful or unsuccessful the user has been in adopting new healthy habits. The app also allows the user to additionally set reminders for workdays, weekends and any other particular days of the week to stay on the right track of living a good life (Gausepohl, 2016). This app is available for free on iOS and is available on Android with the name Habit.
Any.do is an app designed to create a to-do list for both personal and professional life of the user. It keeps a record of the user’s to-do list and syncs it in the cloud which allows the user to view it on the tablet, desktop, browser and smart phones. The app also allows the user to group similar tasks together and coordinate the tasks with family, co-workers and friends. By staying on the schedule, the worker can return home with free mind. The user can also add notes, subtasks and files with reference to each task in order to stay extra organized.
Sufficient amount of sleep is a critical part of the work-life balance. If the employee is rest deprived, he/she cannot give their best in their professional and personal life. The Sleep Cycle alarm clock is an intelligent timer that records and analyzes the sleeping patterns of the user and wakes them up during the lightest part of their sleep cycle -- the optimal time to awaken for feeling well-rested and relaxed. Since you move differently depending on whether you're in a deep or light sleep, the app monitors movements using sound or vibration analysis in order to determine the best time to wake you (Management, 2017).
The app also provides detailed statistics on your sleeping patterns, stores data online, and gives you the option to compare your sleep quality with people from around the world. You can enter notes to see how things like stress, caffeine, and exercise affect your quality of sleep.
Connect is a location based messaging application that helps the user to stay in touch with their social media friends. The app enlightens the user about the connections that are around the user’ location and hence help the user to set up a meeting with these people. Also, the app allows the user to identify the social media connections that live nearby and allows the user to check in while being at a particular location in order to let the friends know about their whereabouts. Connect helps the user to share real time location, text and make calls with their surrounding connections. Building and maintaining relationships is a critical part to work-life balance. With Connect, you may be more likely to meet with friends in person as opposed to chatting online or on the phone.
The key feature in every work-life balance application is that it has the ability to encourage time management. Everybody wishes to have some extra hours in their day in order to complete all their activities. The work-balance apps virtually add additional hours in a 24-hour day by inculcating the habit of time management in the workers. Andrew Chen, an investor in San Francisco, used to feel that reaching zero in one’s mail inbox was folklore. The entrepreneur started using the app named Streak to clear his emails on a daily basis. Additionally, he uses Esper, a digital time manager app to maximize his daily productivity. These apps gather the user’s data, analyze it and organize it in a way that allows the user to cover more tasks using the app than without using the app. Since these apps make the users feel that they are somehow squeezing more hours in their day, they have managed to build a large customer base. The HR and managers of some organization also encourages the use of some of these apps to increase the employees’ productivity and hence increase the productivity of the business too (Heathfield, 2016).
The ideal time management app not only keeps the track of the way employees are spending their time, but also focus on how the employees are using their time. These apps enable the employers to prioritize tasks for the organization and then enable the employees to work on these important tasks by keeping a track of the time left with them to complete a particular task. This way the leaders can clarify how they expect the employees to plan their activities and provides opportunity to the employees to complete these tasks on priority. The managers can keep a track of the activities of each employee using these technological work-life applications. However, the management should not let these apps give less importance to face to face discussions. Even though these apps can be used to track the development of a particular project, yet the apps should not replace the relevant discussions regarding that project.
The work-life apps should not just be used by managers to enable the employees, but also let them empower the employees. This implies that the employees should be made aware about the time and activities that are being tracked by the employer. The employees should not feel that their privacy is being intruded by the managers while using these apps. Additionally, some employers prefer apps that allow different levels of oversight (Kehl, 2012). For example, ATracker, which is used by a number of medical clinics, lets healthcare providers decide what information they want to track, for instance the time spent on an operation or with a patient, but the hospitals can let the doctors decide when and whether to generate reports from that data and send them to administrators, founder Jian Yan said. Therefore, the work-life apps should empower the employees to review the data generated by these apps before actually sending the information to the employers. This increases the confidence of the employee and helps them to explain the flaws in their workday routine if any.
The employers should also ask for the employees’ feedback on how beneficial they find the work-life balance apps. These apps are to be used as a support system by the organization to increase the productivity of their employees and business as a whole. But these apps should not become a threat to its employees. It should motivate the employees to give their best rather than distracting them with constant fear of being watched by their employers. Additionally, since there are a number of different apps available in the market, the organization should be flexible enough to switch to another kind of app if the employee feedback suggests so (Miller, 2016).
To conclude, I would say, technology has definitely made the life of human beings simpler. Due to increase in the work pressure every day, it has become very important for the organizations to use work-life balance apps in their daily tasks. The employers can benefit from these apps to increase the productivity of the employees and business. The employees on the other hand can use these apps to relieve themselves from the extra work pressure and attain balance between their personal life and work. However, people should not depend completely on these applications. They should be used as a support system by the organizations and not a way to dominate the employees.
Dishman, L., 2015. Why managers and employess have wildly different ideas about work life balance, Available at: https://www.fastcompany.com/3041908/the-surprising-gap-between-work-life-balance-beliefs-and-reality
Eyl, E., 2015. How Organizational Culture Affects Work-Life Balance, Available at: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/eryc-eyl/how-organizational-cultur_b_8469314.html
Gausepohl, S., 2016. 6 Ways to Improve Your Work-Life Balance Today, Available at: https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/5244-improve-work-life-balance-today.html
Heathfield, S., 2016. Work-Life Balance: Employers Assist Employee Work-Life Balance with Flexible Policies, Available at: https://www.thebalance.com/work-life-balance-1918292
Kehl, T., 2012. 12 Key Strategies to Achieving a Work-Life Balance, Available at: https://www.industryweek.com/leadership/12-key-strategies-achieving-work-life-balance
Management, A. H., 2017. Work – Life Balance, Available at: https://www.adarehrm.ie/human-resource-management/health-and-well-being/work-life-balance
Messinger, L., 2015. Do time management apps really make people more productive?, Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/aug/18/time-management-apps-work-life-balance-productivity
Miller, B., 2016. How to Improve Work/Life Balance for Employees, Available at: https://www.lifehack.org/275194/14-smart-apps-improve-your-worklife-balance
Prokopets, E., 2014. 14 Smart Apps To Improve Your Work/Life Balance, Available at: https://www.lifehack.org/275194/14-smart-apps-improve-your-worklife-balance
Rampton, J., 2015. How Work Life Balance Can Keep Your Employees Happy and Your Business Healthy, Available at: https://www.inc.com/john-rampton/how-work-life-balance-can-keep-your-employees-happy-and-your-business-healthy.html
Sheridan, K., 2016. 10 iPhone, Android Apps To Master Work-Life Balance, Available at: https://www.informationweek.com/mobile/mobile-applications/10-iphone-android-apps-to-master-work-life-balance/d/d-id/1325816
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