Work Life Balance

Work- Life Balance is dying as a concept, In the ninja world of corporate you make Work, Life & Family choices and the ratio in which you make the choices has its consequences. You or your family pays the price or enjoys the benefit.

The Problem with Work Life Balance

  • The problem with Work- Life Balance is that it suggests there is a trade-off—that one side must be “up” and the other one “down” like a weighing scale that has two sides to it. Using the word “balance” suggests that the two aspects are completely separate from one another and are at odds, that when you are at work you’re not really living. Now that’s not true, we spend 1/3 of our lives working. Work is a part of life and all parts of life have to be cherished.
  • Work-Life Balance as a term means that one’s work and personal life take place within two distinct chunks of time. So when you are working you should forget your family life, and vice versa. With the advent of technology, the new world reality may be that Work and Life get completed integrated in the future , poles apart from the isolated pockets concept.

What is Life?

Paul Herbert says ” Life is what we do. How much of what we do that is focused on what “we” want and what“others” want is the real issue. And that isn’t clock bound. It’s not about measuring time – but about passing time. It’s not about which numbers on the clock we work or not work – it’s about the percentage of our breathing we spend on others’ goals and how much we spend on our own.

What is Work?

Peter Moorhouse says this beautifully – “Work is what we do, not where we go. Work is what we produce, not when we produce. It’s the problems we solve and the things we create. It’s how we use our skills and our smarts.”

The concept of Work – Life Integration

We do best when passion drives our work and is a vital part of our lives: something that inspires us to create wonderful & meaningful products. Employees are highly engaged when their personal and professional values complement and support one another.

A more realistic way to look at Work- Life Balance is not from a tradeoff point, but from a point of “Choices You Make”. Work- Life Integration is an outcome of people exercising control and choices in their life to meet life’s challenges. This can be in terms of managing work responsibilities alongside their personal and family needs. The life choices will change based on an individual’s life stage – it is dynamic depending on the circumstances of an individual.

How to make Work -Life Choices

In my work with the C- Suite executives, I often hear “My job makes me be that way and I don’t have any time on hand.”. The hard reality for Senior Executives is that there are some jobs that make it very difficult to achieve balance.

You have made the choice to be famous and make a difference to the business, so there will be a price to pay. If you are going to surf in the sea, the last thing you should expect is that there will be no waves and it will be a smooth sailing. If you are signing up for a boxing match, be ready for a few punches.

Now the hard question comes when you have kids and family, can you take a one sided decision to pursue your career without taking their consent? . Teachers in the UK have warned that days of up to 10 hours in school or childcare result in children who do not talk to anyone, fall asleep and lag behind their peers.

Try to answer these questions to help you make the Work – Life Choices

  • Do you want to keep work / personal life separate or you are fine with mingling both of them?
  • What is your focus for the next five years – Career / Family / Society?
  • If you could have an extra hour in a day, what would you like to spend it on?
  • What are the 5 things you need in your life to be healthy and happy at the same time?
  • Are you comfortable with the fact, that your children may not see you very often and you will miss having fun with them as they grow?
  • Are your family members on board with your Work – Family choices you have made?
  • What de-stresses you faster and gives you a big high, can you get a dose of it every day or at least twice a week?
  • What do you want to be remembered for when you die?

Examples of Work – Life Integration

  1. A young college graduate may be ready to do a 60 hour week in the first few years of career to learn new skills.
  2. A new mom/ dad may need time off to take care of the child.
  3. A highly successful mid age executive may request for a job sharing program to start a family.
  4. Mid age employees may want to practice some of their hobbies which they could not do in earlier years. – Theatre and music classes for some colleagues.
  5. Some employees may want to do an 80 hour week – a scientist who may be working on a new drug molecule which has potential to save thousands of lives a year.
  6. People close to retirement may want to spend additional time with graduates to teach them life navigation skills.
  7. A C level executive may want to do a 70 hour work week – there may not be an option and he has to meet the clients and pull the company out of the crisis.
  8. An employee may want to do extra hours as he needs to save additional money for a family requirement.
  9. When you are broke – the value of time may be minimal and you may want to do extra hours to get the earnings back on track.

Instead of blaming someone else for your plight, take control of your life and make choices around it – thereafter own the consequences. Be happy, this life is only for once!

Which one is better work life balance or work life integration? , Please share your views in the comments.

Jappreet Sethi

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