Blending work and your life
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Johannesburg - There is an importance that can be attached to having a work-life blend.
Bend? Yes, I know what you are thinking – didn’t I mean to say balance? The answer is no, I am keeping up with the times and now looking at a Blend as opposed to a Balance.
In this instance, we refer to work as the amount of time you spend focussing on ‘work-related activities’ and when we mention life it refers to your ‘lifestyle’.
It is clearly becoming more evident that, in this day and age, our professional lives are morphing with our personal lives. This is obviously happening in various degrees, with differing repercussions, all over the world.
How many of you answer yes to the following five questions?
• Do your work emails get sent to your personal cell phone?
• Do you check your work emails in the evening?
• Do you check your emails over a weekend?
• Do you miss family events or functions because you have too much work to do?
• Do you take your work laptop on holiday with you?
If you answered yes to three or more of these questions, you have a work-life blend that is more heavily weighted towards work. In some situations you would expect to see the blend in favour of work – this would be for people who own their own business; a start-up that is still trying to get off the ground and/or during a busy time of a business cycle like month end.
With modern technology these days, most house are equipped with a WiFi connection. This enables us to do things like check our emails and conduct Skype meetings, which were not possible in the past.
In light of this – shall we just admit that a work life balance is clearly a thing of the past and we must accept that home and work life now integrates seamlessly?
This new way of living, where work and life blends together, can actually help us in many respects. No longer shall we feel guilty about doing ‘life tasks’ during work hours. By this I mean that chatting to our loved ones; popping out to the post office; sorting out your rates and taxes bill over the phone.
These things can now all be done with a clear conscience. This is especially true if you are checking your emails while you are on ‘leave’ and still making that weekly conference call while standing on a remote mountain to ensure you get the best possible signal.
Most companies, the established corporates in particular, are not ready to allow their workers to have a blended work life balance just yet. They will still demand that you work from 08h00 to 17h00 with a mandatory 1 hour lunch, which no one takes anyway!
Studies have, however, shown that when people are given autonomy to make decisions and to organise their own working hours; their productivity increases and KPIs are achieved in a shorter period of time.
One thing we need to remember is that your work life blend is unique to you. No two work life blends will ever be the same. There are a lot of free work life balance tests/checks to do online so why don’t you see how you score?
In my opinion, as long as you are happy and do not feel like you are drowning in work stress – there may be no need to reassess your work life blend. However, does your partner, or family, feel the same way?
Vanessa Raath is general manager of It’s About People.