Work-life balance, we talk about it all the time. It’s so important to make sure you have a balance between your work and home life – we’re big advocates of it here. The last year has turned everything upside down and we’ve been at home permanently, so it has made the topic even more important and more widely discussed. Is work-life balance even a ‘thing’ anymore or have we progressed into something more fluid?
There are many factors to be considered when addressing the work-life balance argument – for me, they all centre around technology. Technology has allowed us to change the once rigid working environment – with a set place of work and working hours – to be much more fluid and relaxed. This advancement allows for far greater flexibility, but can add extra challenges for keeping the structure in place between your work and social life.
Remote working allows us to work from anywhere, not just in the office. At home, on a train, in another office, even abroad. In most cases, all you need is your laptop and phone and Wi-Fi connection and you’re away. This flexible working allows employees to work in different places, where they may feel happier, more productive or more creative. It means they are able to work while they travel to a social event or go away for some peace and quiet, without taking holiday. Allowing work and life to intertwine can lead to a much happier, healthier and more productive team.
Flexitime gives employees the freedom to choose their hours to fit around their other commitments outside of work. This blurs the lines, but in my opinion in a positive way – you can work around dropping off your kids, having a personal appointment or event meeting friends. You do not need to sacrifice your work or your personal commitments – you still do your hours and get your work done but can also do the things in your personal life that are important.
Mobile phones and laptops are great because you can take them easily wherever you go, to work remotely. But this often comes with its own problems – if you use the same laptop or phone for both personal use and for work, it can be difficult to switch off. Many phones have emails and Slack and other forms of communication for work connected to them, which allows totally switching off from work almost impossible! There are solutions though – whether it’s keeping a separate phone for work or turning off notifications for certain apps, you can still maintain healthy barriers. Turning your phone to ‘do not distrub’ mode at times also helps to switch off – whether it is to concentrate on a project for work or to do something personal, it’s good to have some quiet time to concentrate.
All these technological factors blur the lines between your work life and your home life. But is it necessarily a bad thing? In my opinion, the freedom and flexibility businesses and employees now have, to work where and when they want, is brilliant. And, although the factors blur the lines so work can creep into your home life, it also means your home life can merge into work-life too – you are able to juggle other responsibilities around work, rather than following a strict 9-5 Monday – Friday in the office. Less need to sacrifice things, including our own health. Having said that, it is still really important to make sure you keep a balance and sometimes – press the off button, to successfully manage stress in the workplace.
If you need some practical tips to help you, here are 6 tips for a better work-life balance.
Carl Hinett is our Director & Executive Search Specialist. If you’ve got a hard-to-fill role and need some help, get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org.
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