How important is your life, and what role does our work have in making life special, fulfilling, and keeping us healthy? We may have had to adjust to working from home or flexible working between home and the office.
So, where does work-life balance fit into all of this? There has been much talk about the impacts of this new lifestyle on mental health, stress, well-being, relationships, communication, and productivity.
Whose responsibility is work-life balance?
Our world faces many challenges, from climate change and biodiversity loss to the 4-ps of the pandemic, poverty, political instability, and pollution. As we seek to return to what some call normality, we have an excellent opportunity to rethink and reframe the balance.
In a thought-provoking article on the Time website, Kathleen Gerson, a professor of sociology at NYU, argues that offering tips to establish “work-life balance” can be a trap because it can imply the burden falls solely on workers to manage their lives. Instead, she argues that employers need to ensure their workers can have a healthy attitude towards their careers and that workers need to advocate for better treatment.
For businesses, having coped with the challenges during periods of lockdown restrictions and employees on furlough, it is easy to understand the urgency to look to staff to demonstrate the highest levels of commitment. Some employers appear to be open to adjusting to employees’ needs and well-being, such as Arup introducing permanent flexible working for all staff. On the other hand, it is staggering to see in the Wellbeing at Work Report issued by Koa Health that 43% of businesses admitted that mental health was still not a cultural priority.
Losing the work-life balance
As we blend more flexible working with working from home, how do we ensure that we take time for ourselves, understand what is important to us, what makes life and work fulfilling? Do we need boundaries to separate work and life, or are they both part of the same?
It seems that professionals still struggle to overcome deeply ingrained assumptions and habits about working long hours. An HBR survey of professionals from the London offices of a global law firm and an accounting firm suggests that achieving a better balance requires questioning assumptions to increase self-awareness — and intentional role redefinition.
Restoring the balance
As suggested in the HBR findings, work-life balance is not an achievement but an ongoing cycle requiring constant reassessment as our circumstances and priorities change.
If ever there was a time when we should be considering Life Coaching or Executive Coaching, then now is that time. Coaching can help you to identify and challenge assumptions that may be holding you back. It can increase self-awareness and clarify your core values and goals.
A recent Global Job Satisfaction Survey carried out by Bespoke Careers revealed that half of the architecture and design professionals included were planning to move jobs in the next 12-18 months. If it is time to prepare for a specific role or a completely new challenge, a personal coach can help you to explore things from a new perspective.
For businesses looking to support their staff, the Extended DISC Remote Worker Assessment and Remote Worker Self Study Workbook used in partnership with a personal coach is an invaluable help. In addition, our article on getting the best out of employees without facing burnout shares some useful tips.