I have oft heard it said that “happiness is a way of life and not a destination”. If this is true (and I for one am convinced it is), then finding your own formula for a successful work / life balance, is one of the keys to achieving this nirvana.
Now it sounds simple when you say it like that, but this is a conundrum that is notoriously difficult to resolve. I know from personal cost, that when one of the two elements of this tricky puzzle gets the upper hand, then it is either detrimental to my personal life, or alternatively to my personal development.
Employers inevitably have a key role to play here. Most employers will maintain that they are willing to “give & take” on this issue. However there is no set of established rules or behaviours here, and what an employee might consider quite honestly as “ a little bit of give” might equally be regarded as “completely taking the mickey” by an employer. Indeed it can be more complicated, as often the line of what is acceptable can vary from department to department or manager to manager within the same organisation.
In a working life that has spanned five decades; I have personally worked for individuals who have had vastly differing approaches to this topic. On the one hand I have worked for a manager who was quite happy to engage in hour long coffee breaks, and was quite offended if you wanted to return to your work before they finished an anecdote which seemed to have no conclusion. On the other hand I have worked for individuals who were online and working at all hours of the day and consequently expected you to be as well. For this particular executive the line between work and personal time was not so much blurred, it simply did not exist.
But hang on a minute I seem to recall that a few years ago commentators predicted that technology and the ability to work from home would liberate us all. Whatever happened to the vision of technology enhancing both our work and our personal life?
Well it’s true that working from home has brought some relief from the tedium of sitting in motorway traffic, and I for one have participated in conference calls from home whilst sitting in my pyjamas. But at the same time technology has enabled work to become a Trojan horse smashing its way into our domestic life at some considerable cost. Many argue that this is a development that has favoured employers far more than it has employees.
The introduction of instant messaging by many companies has made it obvious to all and sundry not only when we are working, but also where we are working. You might indicate that you are in ”do not disturb” mode, but my experience all this does is effectively issue a challenge to your colleagues who are convinced that this status does not apply to any requests from them! Furthermore in today’s competitive and ego driven workplace it’s tempting to think that our colleagues can’t possibly survive without consulting us on every subject. No matter how trivial.
The result of all this is that we are frustrated by workplace interruptions, and consequently not happy or effective employees. But wait…. Do not happy employees make for more productive employees?
My own experience and observations would suggest that this is certainly the case. As the concept of work as an activity, rather than a place we attend continues to gain acceptance, it is a problem that will continue to harass us all for some time yet.
Anyway … the landline phone is now ringing, the email is piling up, while the intrusive “ping” of my mobile tells me that the text messages are stacking up as well.
I conclude my colleagues need my advice…. Must dash!