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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.

To further emphasize that employees understand the importance of this delicate balance, managers should practice a healthy work-life balance in their own lives, modeling appropriate professional responsibility and support of their teams' pursuit of their own balances, Kaul says.

Executives and managers must remember that a business's success in the workplace isn't dependent on how many hours people work, but is about the results, Kjerulf says.

"Executives and managers must realize once and for all that it's not about how many hours people are logged in, it's about the results they create," he says. "You must shift your thinking and as hard as it can be, give people much more autonomy in deciding when and where they work," he says.

And for employees, Kaul says, ensuring the balance between a working and a personal life begins with establishing realistic goals, prioritization, organizing their workload and staying focused to accomplish each responsibility as a milestone, he says.

Self-management and effective time-management are the keys to a healthy work-life balance, especially within the mobile workforce where remote employees are not governed by their ability to unplug at the end of each day, says Kaul.

Technology Can Help Achieve Work-Life Balance

Technology can offer a concrete solution to helping employees and executives maintain the continuum of work and life, says Kaul. He recommends social collaboration solutions to reduce the hassles and burdens of never-ending email chains and long meetings, and to give workers quick access to relevant information or to the chain-of-command as well as the ability to interact within a "virtual workspace" rather than a physical office.

Combined, technology, management buy-in and positive examples and a focus on business results can all lead to effective time and work management, thus leaving more time to spend attending to personal life matters, Kaul says.

The ultimate goal, says Kjerulf, is to avoid separating work and life into separate spheres, and find the sweet spot that allows you to do both without neglecting either.

"Looking at my own life, I certainly don't see a 'work life' and a 'private life.' I just see one life, mine, being expressed in different aspects. And these aspects are so mixed and so mutually dependent, that it makes no sense to attempt to separate them," says Kjerulf.

"They are already as integrated as they can be, and there seems to be no time where I am 100 percent at work or 100 percent off work — I'm always just me, living my life. To me, it's not really about balance, it's about being happy and living a full life in its many different aspects."


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