It seems like these days, there are a handful of words always buzzing around the workplace. A lot of them are new post-pandemic terms trying to redefine the changing nature of work as we know it. However, one stands out from the noise: balance. How do we facilitate work-life balance for our people? We wonder about its implications as we struggle to juggle professional and personal life stresses every day.
New realities force us to create new solutions. Currently, workplaces are rethinking known and unknown scenarios, exploring divergent ideas, and being more flexible. As companies, we are in the midst of exciting times, as the last two years have had a profound impact on how we manage and conduct our productive tasks and our people.
The Relationship Between Hybrid Work and Balance
Almost unthinkable in the past, hybrid and remote work results from these new scenarios. Hybrid and remote work was often heralded as the great improver of work-life balance. However, we’re also learning it has its own balance challenges.
Since work typically takes a good portion of our days, it’s quite logical that we perceive it as the biggest counterpart of our personal lives. Therefore, when it comes to making decisions for self-improvement, it should be a mandatory variable of the equation.
Policies are useless if people don't commit to life balance at an individual level.
Organization’s Responses to Challenges with Work-Life Balance
How we’re dealing with this as companies has a myriad of responses. These include renewed processes, flexible time, extended time off, new family-friendly policies, etc. This is all great and appears to be a logical response to change. After all, we need a new playbook here, right?
But in the end, when all is decided, documented, and communicated, let’s not forget that any policy, rule, decision, etc., is only possible if there is a deep commitment. This means a commitment on many fronts. To achieve work-life balance, managers and employees need to better understand how to do their part to make the other side feel confident and secure with these new ways of working.
We need to ask ourselves these two questions:
Are our managers emotionally skilled enough to facilitate smooth transitions
Are our employees clear on what’s expected from them, or responsible enough to manage their own time?
What Does This Look Like?
The only way for members of an organization to truly achieve work-life balance, especially in a hybrid work world, is for everyone to take their personal responsibility. When we understand the commitment to deliver that comes with the benefits of flexibility and self-time management, we’re in the position to ignite and start real changes.
The challenge isn’t always impossible workloads demanded unceasingly by an overbearing manager. Plenty of times, you will see workers confusing proactivity with “flooded” work pipelines, promising unrealistic estimates and quick deliverables. All this results in longer work shifts and preventable burnout.
So Whose Responsibility Is It?
A couple of major mindset shifts have to happen here in order to truly take advantage of this new balanced way of working:
Both parties need to redefine what it means to be an “ideal worker” and how the traditional definition stands in the way of truly valuable performance.
The real first step towards achieving work-life balance needs to happen at the individual level.
Ultimately, taking accountability for our attitude and responsibility towards work and home life is the “sweet spot” where any company's efforts to promote balance will meet their worker's need for it.
You won’t find any magical set of tips, best-practices manifestos, how-to’s listing, or magic potions here. But instead, an alternative way of how we all can do our best with the tools, techniques, systems, and new work policies being put into practice in the workplace.
For this, make sure you have created our personal roadmap for best performance before expecting to take advantage of these new policies. Nothing can be achieved without having clarity of the outcomes we want. Understand how to better use the new flexibility benefits you have at hand. Only then will you be able to achieve a conscious, sustainable, and realistic work-life balance.
Making ourselves accountable for our part in the game makes it so much more interesting to play and easier to win. So why not win?