Works work and homes home, and never the twain shall meet
The traditional approach to balancing work and home life is to treat it as a simple equation. X hours at work. Y hours at home. That gives the business X hours. If you spend an hour of work time dealing with personal matters, youve given the business X 1, and thats not on.
Now we talk about work-life balance. You are only one person, although you play many roles. The self that plays with the kids is the same self that works through the accounts. You need to know that the accounts are sound, so you can relax with the kids, and you need to know the kids are content, so you can attend to the accounts.
Work-life balance is the phrase used for this, although this still separates work from life, as though when youre working, youre not alive. It would be better to talk of life-balance, where you integrate work, family, gardening, football, and whatever interests you.
Business needs people who concentrate on the job. Theyll do this better if their life-balance is good. This has long been recognised in extreme circumstances, when compassionate leave has been granted to deal with a crisis. Now, its known that people will work better if they have space to deal with niggles in their lives, as well as to expand their horizons.
Communication technology has impacted this from all angles. It has reduced the need to be ever present. We can go to the beach and build sandcastles, and still have instant contact with the office. It also means theres no guarantee we can stick around till the final sand turret is built. We can be called away instantly.
Social changes have had their effect. People who have traditionally stayed at home are now in the workplace in large numbers. The largest increase in the labour force between 1990 and 2000 has been in mothers of young children. There are also huge numbers of people from other cultures, whose input we need. People with disabilities are no longer expected to give up on careers employers are expected to make reasonable adjustments. All these people have their own needs for a good life balance.
We are in the Age of Knowledge, and this brings new strains. No matter how much you learn, theres always a lot more, and much of what youve learned already is out of date. To keep this stimulating rather than stressful, you need sturdy emotions, which includes keeping a good life balance.
This is more than making our lives pleasant. It is sound commercial sense. The case for a good life balance is clear.
Good life balance is a universal need. Surveys show that life-balance is high priority, in many cases top priority, for workers across many cultures.
Legislation is now increasing to enforce a flexible attitude from employers. This is only a first step. The ideal is to build trust and commitment between employers and employees, so that each person has a unique individual work pattern that accommodates their needs, and gets the job done.
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