How often have you heard the phrase Work Life Balance casually dropped into conversation? It is a commonly used term but what does it really mean and is it actually helpful?
We live in a society that is quickly becoming less structured when it comes to our work day. For example how many mums like me are balancing their childcare with everyday family life and juggling work alongside these commitments? In a typical day how many of us actually have the same work pattern anymore or even the same schedule when it comes to caring for our families? In fact I can’t remember the last time I had the same work day so I find it difficult to understand how I could even think about applying some sort of structure to it like work life balance.
I agree it is very important to ensure you have some distinction between work and home life and have time to spend with your family and enjoy that time but I no longer think there is a structure that you can implement to achieve this. For example the 9-5 working day is going to be extinct within the next few years. Particularly now that flexible working and shared parental leave are beginning to become more of a feature within businesses. The working from home buzz is also picking up momentum and actually when you factor in the cost to businesses to provide office facilities for employees to work from you can see the shift in asking employees to work from home becoming more common practice. It just makes good sense.
However there will always be roles that need people to be in their physical place of work such as medical staff but again what would work life balance mean to them? It is often the case that when you associate work life balance with anyone working in the medical profession then it is assumed there is no work life balance that it is all work and no life! In some cases I am sure this could well be true but if you step back and consider this for a moment how many of those people regard their work as work? Many will regard what they do at work as their life and have passion for what they do. Therefore in this situation the work life balance boundaries become blurred.
My view on this is that every individual has a unique daily life that they work and live in and no 2 people ever really follow the same pattern anymore. There are too many variations and changes in life to make this the case. Therefore I think the term work life balance becomes too restrictive to fit the needs of people living within a modern society.
Whatever work life balance means to you it is important to ensure that it works for you. If that means working longer hours because that is what you genuinely enjoy doing then that is your prerogative but if you know there is a need to get more life back into your daily routine then that should also be your focus. Inevitably your focus between life and work will always change dependant upon your life circumstances but as long as you recognise this and realise that it is okay to shift the balance between the two then you will always know where your sweet spot lies between your work and life.
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Director, Strathrgy Consultants Limited
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