Is achieving a work-life balance a dream? No, it’s definitely real and more of a reality now than ever

By Chantelle Smith, Recruitment Specialist, HR Company Solutions

More often than not, our working lives and our career goals tend to take precedence over just about everything else in our lives. This means that our own well-being is set aside so that the need to succeed in our careers is first and foremost and it can be extremely detrimental to us in the long run.

Now, with the current global pandemic that is Covid-19, everyone across the world has been ‘forced’ into situations where they now need to look more closely at how balanced – or actually, imbalanced – their lives are when it comes to the work-life scenarios.

We have been put into remote working, working from or homes, which has given us all that extra bit of time with our families, some time for retrospection, looking inwards to see what truly matters and what we’ve been missing out on by being so focusses on our careers, work, achieving deadlines, upskilling ourselves and spending more time at the office and in front of our computers, than anything else.

The thing is, we have all bought into the organisational idea that the ‘ideal worker’ is someone who is completely devoted their job, is available 24 hours a day, every day and no matter what, they’ll ‘drop’ everything in favour of work and getting something done for Management. This hasn’t led to employees being compensated proportionally for their time devoted to work, management becomes ‘greedy’ and expects this of their staff regardless of the any other circumstances and situations at play and the ‘ideal worker’ becomes an expectation at the expense of their well-being, their mental wellness, physical health, family and social health and that is now beginning to change.

Regardless of the current pandemic, people have begum to realise that they are burning out having dedicated all their time and energy to their jobs and careers while they are missing out on important family and social time, health and fitness time and it is now becoming a new focus. There has been more call for companies to allow for a far more flexible workforce, remote working options, and a shift toward a more balanced work-life restructuring.

This is completely possible and the main driver of this is technology. We are mobile in our lives. We have access to laptops, mobile phones with all the best and current apps that allow us to stay connected no matter where we are. We have telecommunication options that allow us to make use of virtual meetings via the likes of Skype, Zoom, Microsoft® Teams and so many others, so there’s no need to constantly be in an office in order to get things done.

In the long run, and even the immediate term, employers who now support and implement more strategies and plans for an improved work-life balance for their staff, will ultimately benefit by having fewer bouts of absenteeism [due to stress-related illness and burnout], saving on costs [by having larger offices with costly overheads to accommodate more staff etc.] and ultimately, a more loyal and productive team.

The way to achieving a better work-life balance – or a completely new one if you have never had it – is simple, you need to do the following:

Accept the fact that there is no perfect work-life balance and it will take some adjustment to your ‘normal’ life and getting used to. You need to make sure you have a realistic model for your work-life balance that can be achieved over time while you find a routine that works for you. No two days will be the same.

Be in a job that you love! It will be exceedingly difficult to achieve a work-life balance if you are not doing something you are passionate about. When you love your work, you will have far more energy and drive to do the things you love outside of work. When your job is something you despise and it drains you every day, it might be time to make a change.

Make sure that you put your health first. You need to make sure that your emotional, mental, and physical health are all balanced and you are healthy. Do simple things like exercising more outdoors, doing some meditation and if you really struggle with stress and anxiety, it takes a strong person to seek some help for that. Balancing your health will give you the energy and focus you need to be a better employee and a better person.

Make sure you take time out for you. Have a set routine or plan that means you ‘switch off’ from working mode and you do something that makes you happy and improves your well-being. If that is taking time to read a book, playing a game with your children, going for a walk or a run, do it. Stop living your days around your laptop and your phone. Take time out.

If you are going to be working with more flexibility and within a remote working model, make sure you have a routine and that you sent the right boundaries for working time and for home time. Don’t let your home become your office and when you are in the office, make sure you still stick to your hours and your time set aside for you.

It is important that management also plays their part in assisting their employees in achieving this balance too. Management need to know what their staff’s goals are. Not everyone they have working for them has the same goals. Talk to your staff and set a good example about what a work-life balance should be. Also, let your staff know what their options are and constantly communicate with those initiatives that the company is putting in place.

“In our world today, for companies to remain competitive, no matter their size or sector they operate in, management needs to find ways to offer more flexible working options that will allow them to not only attract top talent, but retain them in the long run.”

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