The work-life balance message has been bombarded to us from all kind of sources and through all the mediums one can think of. Be it a TV ad, lengthy articles, billboards, radio ads, seminars and conferences, all of them portraying the perfect world of a work-life balance. And for all those, including myself who have been working hard to find this balance, we seem to be in the constant lookout for this balance, a balance which never seems to be found. And by time we start to grow tired of looking for this balance.
The mental health foundation Mental Health Foundation in the UK has defined a good work-life balance as follows:
A healthy work-life balance will mean different things to us all. It’s not so much about splitting your time 50/50 between work and leisure but making sure you feel fulfilled and content in both areas of your life.
Now that we have been past multiple waves of COVID, we have definitely realised that work and life are not that distinct especially when working from home or when having to attend to a meeting when our children are trying to follow a lesson via a video-call.
TheU.S. Chamber of Commerce have offered an alternative to work-life balance, i.e. Work-Life integration. They have defined the latter as follows:
Work-life integration involves blending both personal and professional responsibilities. Rather than viewing work and personal time as separate entities, busy professionals can find areas of compromise. This might look like completing household chores while on a conference call or bringing children into the office when schools are closed.
Whilst we do not have the right competencies to determine which one is best we definitely tend to be in favour of flexibility. Being flexible means moving away from a defined and inflexible work environment and instead being more family-friendly where the hours are less important than the targets that we are striving to achieve.
If we had to start discussing the solution we will never get to the end of it. However we believe that the starting point is transparency. Being transparent and honest with your colleagues, your managers and your subordinates. This also involves when it comes to tasks. In our experience we have met so many persons who have a long list of tasks, some of them extremely important ones which however is recorded in their heads. Needless to say that the risks that such an approach carries are huge.
But what if we had to start off by the simple yet seemingly impossible task, of jotting down all the tasks in a system. By being transparent about what tasks we are to tackle, we can start looking at the results to be achieved rather than the hours worked. When looking at our subordinates rather than judging them by the long unhealthy hours we can commend them for having achieved all the tasks they have been assigned. Maybe working 12 hours a day is less important than managing to complete the planned tasks whilst still picking your children at home, attending to house chores and still delivering great results.