…is an aspect of professional life where I thought I’d long held a consistent opinion – that it was important for individuals to experience their weekends as just that — end of a work-week. So they could recharge their energy levels for the week ahead. I hadn’t ever thought, however, that the end of a work day came religiously at a certain hour as that attitude to working had been akin to an uninspiring, robotic work model where one’s relationship to work didn’t mean much to an individual. Something I hadn’t ever wanted for myself. So when I come across individuals declaring that they cannot bear to look at a screen once back home, I don’t think highly of that perspective of their work … I’ve always wanted people to be invested in their work so they should feel inspired to bring their work to a satisfactory level each day — and if that doesn’t happen in those hours onsite, a laptop in hand can always change that later. However, I realize that this view is all very well for folks like me who’re addicted to their screens, have blurred lines between what they read or do at work or for pleasure, and do not have the constraints of a fixed location of work every day. Most professionals have it tough at work in terms of deliverables, meetings, deadlines and targets, and they’re only too relieved to switch it all off to take that long drive back home.
A read of Jessica Lee’s post on the subject has further cleared my confusion on the subject. As usually happens with popular blogs, the comments on her post add such great value to the subject that I’d recommend them as highly as the post itself. And, I agree that work-life balance is about choices that people make about how they want to spend their time; by choosing to forego higher ratings, appreciation from supervisors, gratitude from colleagues or finished targets for whatever it is they do off work. The point on whether HR can influence that mindset is important – I believe that it’s HR’s ethical responsibility to clearly communicate the work culture so the person can choose to accept that work or move on, and keep a perspective that helps his employer.
What’s your own view of using your keyboard after 6:00 pm?
3 thoughts on “Work-life balance…”
I read your blog and, then Jessica’s post. For the entire period of time that I have been a professional (previously self-employed and, now an employee) an aspect that I have come to hold true is that the quantum of time invested in the work is a reflection of the amount of interest one has in it. That isn’t necessarily an axiom though. Throughout the day I see folks who clock in and out exactly as mandated and, some of them don’t perform at full throttle and others manage to get a lot of work done within that time frame.
Over the years I’ve come to the conclusion that lumping the work-life balance responsibility to HR is an escapist approach from an organization/institution perspective. HR is an enabling function and it is empowered to evolve processes and guidelines that augment the organization’s culture and way it treats the associates. There are hard-riding organizations or, even organization units who revel in the “always on the wire, always online” mode of working. And, then there are units which are comfortable with regular hours while putting more emphasis on the quality of work and the perfection with which it is churned out.
I have never had the luxury of actually having a “balance”. And, even though I don’t consider the casual browing/reading/chatting as “work”, the implicit faith that a phrase like “work-life balance” brings is something that I could look forward to. One day that is.
I think at the end of the day, as it is pointed out, it boils down to choice. What do we choose to live and work like. Some choose the workaholic lifestyle and some the by-the-clock. But neither are wrong. They make choices according to how they interpret their roles, responsibilities within the organization.
I agree with you on a person’s prerogative to a choice. My main grouse was when someone stubbornly chose to get up and go at a fixed time day after day without a thought to its relation to other team members productivity–especially when the work culture of this small team (that called itself a company) was very clearly oriented towards delivering a quality product on time. Those ‘choosing’ to tie loose ends would just gape and look like fools when this person (a very young management graduate on that) would just get up at 6 pm by his watch to live by his recently read course chapter on work life balance!
The configuration of HR varies in companies. So does their mandate. Some see their role as transactional and some as proactive. I believe that HR has to do well on both scores. Its members (could be business owners or contracted professionals) must stop every now and then to take stock and align practices with business objectives. When they see over a period that team members are ruining the work culture with their attitude, they must insist on erring members tweaking their perspective or shipping out. Unless we’re looking at a gross violation of human rights…
Thanks for leaving a thoughtful view on the issue.