At 10Eighty our motto is “work hard, do good and along the way have fun”. We think that if you love what you do it often doesn’t really feel like work, and it is mostly fun. Everyone should aspire to a job they love but we know that’s not how it is for many people. Some find meaning in life through their work, while others view employment as a necessary condition of their existence or as an opportunity to make choices as to lifestyle.
Work-life balance is about the desire of all– not just those with families or caring commitments – to achieve and maintain a ‘balance’ between paid work and life outside work, whatever that involves, from childcare or housework to leisure or self-development. Work and personal life are not easily separated, they overlap and shape each other in many ways. The average Briton spends 100,000 hours at work during their lifetime. As the way we work changes in response to the global economy and technological advances it’s sometimes hard to make time to spend on family and other interests.
The same technology that makes work easier can also make it harder to switch off so that work and free time are no longer compartmentalised but intertwined. In a global survey by Accenture 78% of workers said technology allows them be more flexible with their work schedules but 70% claim technology brings work into their personal lives.
A wide body of evidence suggests that work-life balance benefits both employers and employees. While some employers may express misgivings the introduction of flexible working time arrangements seems to be largely beneficial to employers. Women are much more likely to take up flexible working time arrangements than men, even though an increasing number of men find themselves as secondary earner in their household. Take up is also greater in large establishments and the public sector.
Encouraging employees to focus on good work life balance can take an organisation to the next level, increasing productivity, reducing competition when recruiting, improving staff retention, creating a pleasant working environment. Research by the Corporate Executive Board shows that employees who feel they have good work life balance work 21% harder than those who don’t. Staff are more likely to be more engaged, improving the amount and quality of their work; they’re also less likely to take time off due to stress or illness.
Performance not presence
All jobs may be seen as the sum of a flexible set of responsibilities and tasks rather than as fixed. So they can be changed and redesigned to make best use of the knowledge and skills of the job holder. A job being done well, whatever the work pattern of the worker, he or she should be valued for their contribution to delivering organisational objectives, not the hours or days worked. Assess performance on results, not hours spent in the office.
Achieving a healthy life balance is a continuous process – we all need to unwind and feel we are in control of our lives. It doesn’t necessarily mean a reduction in productivity or working different hours, viewed from a lifetime perspective work life balance must take into account the trade-offs made between work and leisure as interests and commitments change during the course of life. One size does not fit all, it’s important to understand what your team need and what motivates them in order to formulate the best solution for your business.
Not many people will say on their deathbed “I wish I had spent more time at the office”. The world won’t fall apart if staff leave on time or work from home; take heed of the DTI suggestion that everyone can find a rhythm to help them combine work with their other responsibilities or aspirations, and work-life balance involves adjusting working patterns in ways which allow people to achieve this rhythm.