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Is the work-life balance a myth?

Sharon Florentine | July 8, 2014
In theory, the concept of "work-life balance" seems to make sense – splitting your days and weeks between a collaborative and connected working life while also enjoying personal activities and leisure time with friends, family, pursuing hobbies, exercise or just watching TV.

"Enterprise mobility and workforce flexibility is beneficial for rapidly expanding enterprises with increasingly mobile workforces, and those looking for opportunities to grow market reach and business opportunities across borders will continue to adopt this emerging business trend," Kaul says.

But while the always-on, always-connected trend is tangibly valuable to business innovation, collaboration, cost of operations, customer satisfaction, employee retention and customer engagement, mobility can absolutely disrupt the concept of a work-life balance for those employees who are unprepared or unable to disconnect when necessary, Kaul says. Between the varied time zones across which work occurs and the ability to connect and collaborate from anywhere, it can be really difficult for workers to find a satisfactory blend of work and life, he says.

"While it's great that workers are adequately supported by technologies like virtual desktops, mobile technology and cloud based computing, this creates a blurring of professional and personal life," Kaul says.

"To prosper and thrive in any industry, especially the ever-changing and always-growing technology industry, workers need to carefully command work and life so as not to lose themselves, their family or their focus on enterprise/workplace success," and that's a fine line to walk, he says.

How to Maintain the Balance

For many workers, there's an unspoken expectation that the more hours they work, the better, says Kjerulf. This 'Cult of Overwork,' he says, is subtly reinforced by executives who themselves put in 60 to 80 hour work weeks and seem to expect their employees do the same.

"Working 60 hours per week or more is going to screw up your life," Kjerulf says. "One of the ways to avoid this is to consciously disconnect and make time spent not working meaningful do more than just binge-watch "Orange is the New Black" on Netflix, for example," he says. "Spend time with close friends, take a class, try a new hobby, volunteer or contribute time to a charitable cause," he says.

Change Starts at the Top

"Also, executives and managers should take this advice and try to keep from working 80-hour weeks, too," Kjerulf says. "That just creates pressure on everyone else to do the same; many employees feel they don't dare leave while the light is still on in the boss' office."

"As a managing partner, and the same should ring true for my peers, ensuring a healthy work-life balance for valued employees is crucial for fostering organizational fulfillment, frequent innovation and ideation, employee retention and the attraction of new talent," says AgreeYa's Kaul.

"Companies entertaining mobility solutions, or those with elaborate mobility programs already in place, should spend the necessary time and effort to institute policies, processes and incentives, all to set expectations that enable entire workforces to easily pursue more balanced lives. A balanced work-life will reduce the stress among employees and result in increased productivity, engagement, innovation, collaboration and so much more," Kaul says.


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