Your team is building a product and, hopefully, this product is bought by real customers. If your product is used by millions of people who don’t pay for it, they are not real customers. Your investors or your ads provider are your customers. Real customers versus apparent customers.
The same way, when you’re glancing over the people in the office and guess about how they feel about their work life in this team, whether they are stressed or not and whether their life outside work is impacted or not – you’re just guessing.
Your company decided to relocate and find a new office, with some good parts and some bad parts when compared to the old one. Some people used to eat at the nearby cafeteria and now they need to walk 10 minutes to the closest restaurant, but the restaurant is nicer. So is this change good or bad?
Whenever you’re considering the team globally, you’re doing an exercise on the image you have of the team, not on the real people on your team.
There are changes related to office location, to working hours, to commuting, which have a direct impact on the time people spend working or getting to work every day. This is not about the quality of the time spent working or commuting, but the quantity of it.
Instead of guessing how much time your colleagues spend commuting, you could ask each of them for an average and make some calculations. Real data versus appearances. Or if the team is too big, located elsewhere, or if you manage multiple teams, you could ask each team lead to do the calculations for you. Or you could use a calculator by entering all people and the office(s) addresses and getting real data to show you how they spend their days.
It is the same situation as in the real customers situation. Real customers are the ones paying for the product. Real teams and people are the ones going to work, doing the work, and having families and lives outside work.
People spend their 24-hour days basically doing something akin to these activities:
– sleeping and resting
– family time
– alone private time
In order to find out if your team is balanced, you need to find out if these quantities are balanced for each member of the team. Their work/life balance can be estimated by looking at how each one is spending their days, in average. We always go to averages, for a person or for a team, but taking into account each one we try to take our best shot at getting close to the reality.
How each person is spending their days? Is the team stable, improving or feeling good about these quantities? Is some part of the team feeling less and less motivated, tired by long commutes or working too many hours?
You could look at each person from your team and analyse their situation, as much as possible without overstepping their privacy. Everyone should sleep at least 7-8 hours every night. Everyone takes about 3 meals a day and some coffee breaks. Everyone goes to the office (if they’re not working remotely). Everyone does something they can call work (or learning or resting) through the day. And of course everyone spends time for herself, with family, friends or just alone.
So what you could do is make a list with the people on the team, add time for their sleep, breakfast-lunch-dinner, commute, work. The rest of the 24 hours is private time.
You could ask people to give you some averages for these activities. You could also try to get the information from the assistant manager or HR colleagues. You could also estimate as best you can.
Then you can make some calculations. If everyone is using too much time to get to work, they will have to cut back from their private life or from sleep or from meals. And that will be visible in time in their work or it will wear them off and possibly make them burn-out or leaving the company.
Let me know if you think about your team balance and which methods are you using to make sure their life is as balanced as possible.