does worklife balance exist?

According to Jack Welch, former CEO GE last week in the WSJ, it is officially dead. However, i think the problems arise when people try to compartmentalise their work and their home lives.  Wireless data has meant we can be contacted/stay in touch on the move.  Great, whereas once we would have been working til 10pm, we are now sat on the sofa with our partners, watching TV, tweeting with friends and sporadically checking if the email we were waiting for at 6pm has come in yet.  What’s changed?

Nothing.

If anything the lines have been blurred but that isn’t a bad thing necessarily as long as you remember to switch off.  I had a colleague ask me if I had got the plan they sent me Fri night (I don’t work Fridays) and this was Monday….I hadn’t. I didn’t check email all weekend.  I had family down, had a great time and would encourage you to do the same when you can. You’re much more use at work when you are relaxed and refreshed.

I think instead of talking about worklife balance, we need to talk about worklife discipline.  Only you can decide if your kid’s sports day is more important than a client meeting…or if your holiday is more important than knowing what is going on in the office 24/7. Prioritisation is an essential skill….and it is a skill that you’ll continually need to hone.  If you have kids, it changes.  If a parent falls ill, it changes. You get the picture….

People talk about worklife balance as something a company can give you….I believe it is something you must build yourself. The company can provide flexibility but only you know what’s really important each day.

2 comments

  1. Chris Schmitt · July 16, 2009

    Great post. I work at home and as you say the line blurs between work and life. It can be both a gift and a curse: a gift because you have the flexibility to manage a heathly, happy and productive life; a curse when you are unable to switch off or even worse when your boss or co-workers don’t understand the difference between your work and your life.

    It’s really important to reach agreement and set clear expectations with your boss and your co-workers as to when you will and won’t be available for work. Tools that indicate “presence” can help, such as Microsoft Office Communicator or Gmail. But you still have to have that conversation.

    • Rebecca McMichael · July 16, 2009

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment Chris. I am lucky in as much as I work from home and live outside London, have a family and still manage to have a career that I love. Working at home for me is perfect, I couldn’t cope with being tied to an office and don;t mind popping to the study to check mails etc or taking the odd call/conference call on days off. I think there needs to be much more training available for people on how to manage and be managed remotely as this trend is set to stay.

      Becks

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