Approaching Work-Life Balance When The Lines Blur
The past few weeks have been chaotic and jarring in many ways. The spread of Coronavirus has changed our lives dramatically, from remote work mandates to school cancellations and restaurant closures, we are truly living in unprecedented times.
Adjusting to these new circumstances is important. As much as we want to believe that they are temporary, they will cause permanent changes in the way we work and live.
As the novelty of working from home fades – and the lines between work and home blur – I believe people will begin to struggle with their work-life balance. This is partly due to our current news cycle, but it’s also how we’re now conditioned.
Cell phones with email, Slack, and messenger apps pose a challenge for anyone attempting to compartmentalize their life. When your home and office intersect and you are hyper-connected, it’s even more challenging to draw a line between your personal life and work.
Strive For A Work-Life Blend
Chances are that your current work situation is unusual, and it’s OK to acknowledge that. Working from home with your kids when your options for leaving the house are limited is disruptive. Don’t beat yourself up if your at-home work routine is not yet a well-oiled machine. It’s going to take a bit to figure out.
Working from home or not, I believe it’s unrealistic to perfectly balance your work and personal lives anyway. I’ve found it’s healthier for there to be a blend.
Many years ago, before I had kids, I worked with a technical sales manager who had to leave work mid-morning to attend a “Donuts with Dad” event at 10 a.m. I didn’t understand why this had to be scheduled during prime work hours. Growing up, if I had a “Donuts with Dad” event at that time, my father would have needed to request a PTO day to attend.
Work hours are less rigid now. It’s common for recruitAbility employees to use their calendars to reserve personal time to handle family business even if it interrupts the workday. This is healthy, and we encourage employees to do that because it reduces stress and we know it’s not coming at the expense of productivity.
I might go home early to catch my kid’s soccer game, but I’m also going to reply to emails at 7:30 p.m. It may not be considered ideal, but it’s definitely a balanced approach. Working during off-hours wasn’t even an option for previous generations.
Recognize Work Cycles
Work is not linear. There are ebbs and flows. Recognizing this is important so that you avoid burnout. In short periods of time, work may dominate your life, but over time, the lulls should compensate.
Companies with strong cultures that are characterized by good work-life balance also have a high level of accountability. If you’ve read our recent blogs, you’ve likely noticed a theme. Accountability is the common thread that makes for productive workplaces.
What I’ve observed is that in the absence of accountability and communication, work-life balance becomes an issue because it’s subjective. Everybody has their own definition of what that means. But with transparency, planning, and managing expectations, employees can freely attend to personal matters with minimal disruption.
At recruitAbility, we run our business like a sales organization where employees have regular quotas tied to our pipeline of business and existing partners. In such an environment, it’s easier to trust employees to manage their schedules because there’s no ambiguity about expectations and output.
Managing non-sales employees where the scoreboard is not so easily defined is a more arduous task. Rather than micromanage in these situations, executives should use tools like Asana for project planning and Khorus for goal tracking to help employees show their production. Without these, it’s easy to fall into the trap of assigning value to superficial measures.
This is a learning process, and it becomes more challenging amid our current circumstances. Let’s be patient with ourselves and each other, understanding that we’re all dealing with this situation as best we can.