Juggling professional life & home

Essential balance

Juggling professional life & home

Many years ago it was only women who were asked about juggling work and home life, but in the current scenario with increasing number of youngsters being a part of the work force and with both men and women having shared responsibilities in family life and bringing up children, everyone’s primary concern now is establishing a healthy work life balance.

Interestingly, there is a paradigm shift in companies and business houses themselves that encourage employees to maintain a balance between personal and professional life. Growing business opportunities and increased work pressures have seen an increase in burn outs and often result in high attrition rates. From recreational facilities in office buildings to compulsory office outings corporate are doing their bit, however small to break the monotony of work and corporate rules.

Fall out of not having work life balance: One of the most prevalent issues, as a result of unhealthy work-life balance, that is too much time spent at work, is familial discord. With less than sufficient time being spent with the family there is an increase in disputes, misunderstandings and problems in a marriage and in the family. Bad family life in turn takes a toll on an employee’s performance at work. When family life is riddled with strife and insecurity this results in low motivational levels, which affects the overall performance at work. Hoping to avoid just such a situation, businesses now invest in work life balance workshops to encourage and help employees into living a more wholesome life.

These workshops provide healthy outlets for stressed out employees, instruct them on how to establish and maintain relationships, networks and activities outside of work. Another important fall out of investing too much time at work without making time for social distractions is the effect it has on one’s health.

In the past few years new age diseases, as a result of today’s hectic, high-pressure jobs, has been on the rise. Burn outs, high blood pressure, migraine, back problems as a result of bad posture, impaired vision due to spending too much time in front of computer monitors and indigestion and ulcers due to improper eating habits has become commonplace. Most health magazines nowadays provide office workouts, which are basically quick stretches to do during work to ease aches and cramps.  With employee health such a major issue, as illness evidently leads to both absence and lack of productivity or low productivity levels, many companies, especially the IT firms have in-house health facilities.

Most busy professionals work out in the office gym, as they don’t have the time to go to regular gyms or the commute is too long. And many professional health studios have branches in IT parks for this very purpose.
Table tennis, badminton, tennis and squash are some of the other sports facilities that some companies nowadays offer.

While both family life and health are evident issues, the overall problem that people who spend too much time at work face is a stunted social life and not wholesome progress. When employees don’t make time for recreation be it sports, theatre, music, literature, social gatherings or just hanging out with friends and family the growth becomes very uni-dimensional. Being an active part of the society or community is necessary for personal growth, which will subsequently affect professional life.  Many experts admit that an active social life is important for well-rounded development and this doesn’t stop when one enters the work place.

Making time matters
With words like recession, globalisation and economy becoming part of daily parlance, there is no doubt that focus has shifted. Career and money are understandable, necessary goals but it is time to stretch our interests and achievements beyond our cubicles. With everyone tripping over themselves and each other to get ahead in the rat race, no one wants to take time off to smell the roses, lest they get left behind.
What new age gurus have been spouting may actually have some value after all. Time management and prioritising are key to achieving a happy work life balance that works for you. The important thing is to not take work home with you. For those working on strict deadlines this is especially tough, but not impossible. Mobile phones are arguably the biggest distractions, a simple yet difficult choice is to either switch it off or not answer business calls when at home. This will ensure that quality time is not being taken away from family time. Your wife, kids and friends will appreciate it. There is nothing that cannot wait till morning. The biggest problem is that most people feel that they owe their offices or companies all their time, more than the prescribed eight hours, but that is not the case. Once you leave the office, you’re under no obligation to do their bidding; this is where each person needs to set up guidelines.

Similarly manage time well in the office and don’t get waylaid by distractions. The biggest reason why people carry work home with them is that they can’t seem to finish it at work. This is because there are so many unproductive hours spent at work. Cut down the smoke breaks, the coffee breaks, the water cooler gossip breaks and you will find yourself with so much more time on your hands. Similarly logging onto Facebook  and Orkut and checking personal mail every five minutes is also not conducive to productive work time. Take breaks, but only when necessary.

Many people also commute far, which adds to the exhaustion and fatigue of the day. Make even those minutes or hours count. Make personal phone calls then, catch up with friends and family or even use that time to read a book or listen to music.
Today more and more people are succumbing to the pressures of difficult jobs, but there are just as many who are able to strike the right work life balance, who don’t compromise on their social lives and at the same time don’t let their work suffer either. It is about finding that middle path, about being committed to your work while remaining true to yourself and not getting lost in spreadsheets and deadlines.
The writer is Director - HR & Finance, Ma Foi Randstad

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