Work/Life Balance - Current Implications and Solutions

You've probably already realized that the "slash" in the work/life balance equation is disappearing. Work has spilled over into life with our increasing accessibility to colleagues, customers and other stakeholders, and the things we value in life are gaining precedence in the workplace. Senior-level executives tell that they are satisfied by: work they like to do, working with people they like, and a boss they like to work for. Compensation is further down the list, below their desires for adequate work/life balance and opportunity for leadership/professional development.

Just as employees take their work home with them, they are bringing electronic errands into the office space. Online banking, ordering flowers, buying birthday presents, and researching which new HDTV to buy are sometimes done from an office PC. A 2007 survey from CareerBuilder and Harris Interactive revealed that 30 percent of workers admitted to holiday shopping on company time, while 50 percent of their employers reportedly monitor Internet usage.

I agree that online shopping can drain productivity, but the ever-present BlackBerry can interrupt relaxation. The border between "work" and "life" is getting blurry, and the expectations of younger workers are going to help eradicate the boundaries altogether. Having grown up with the Internet, they are online all the time anyway, so it makes no difference to them if they are downloading music at 3:30pm, updating their Facebook page at 7:00am or crunching numbers on a work project they are enjoying at midnight.

For me, at this instant with a hectic project schedule which has managers expecting us to work weekends and skip festivals for the sake of making the deadline mainly want to ignore the fact that social events like festivals and holidays are significant in rejuvenating an employee to work more productively. This should not be compromised.

If you're the boss, consider relaxing the grip on your knowledge workers. When tasks allow, create flex-time policies that enable employees to work more entrepreneurially. As long as there isn't a drop in performance, productivity or the system isn't being abused, you may find a happier and more engaged workforce — and you'll be ahead of your competitors who still demand a stringent 9-to-5 model.

The Author of this article is a Senior Engineer in a Multi-National Semiconductor Company based in Bangalore, India.

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  1. Since owning a blackberry, the line that separates work and life has all but disappeared. However, that goes both ways. At work it is more acceptable to spend some time browsing sites like http://www/ researching what my next HDTV purchase will be. (of course, not excessively)

    The work environment has changed for me with these kinds of changes in technology.

  2. I work for a German semiconductor company. I work 14 hrs a day. I work weekends. What else do i have in life to do?

  3. In the name of recession, lots of companies in india are resorting to extreme dubious business practices. HR personnel are planting deaf ears as if they dont know what is happening. Beyond all this, they are forcing us to take unpaid vacation during christmas though we dont get paid for the extra time we put in. Though compensatory off is an option presented to us, one manager is trying to cover up his dirty acts of mismanagement by blaming the engineers. Pathetic!!

  4. IF you have to finish your work you have to. No excuses. You get paid for it!


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