Is your work/life off balance? It's time for a change…
Is your work/life off balance? It's time for a change…
17th Jul 2019Written by: Iain Milford

If you’re someone who relishes working morning, noon and night, then good for you. Knock yourself out.

For the rest of us, I’d say there’s more to life than work. And money doesn’t buy happiness Or perhaps, never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life. (That last one’s from Dolly Parton, and she’s had a lot to say about working nine to five).

Working from home all the time is the dream for many of us. And why not? It does sound rather good.

It means you can work wherever and whenever suits you, never have to tolerate another hellish commute, and no longer have to dodge the office lurgy (FYI – if you’re feeling ill, don’t come in to the office. No one likes a martyr).

Sorry, back to the point. We’re told that by removing office distractions, home-workers have more time to be super productive and uber industrious.

Hmmm, it almost sounds too good to be true...

Which leads me nicely onto the downsides. You’re suddenly out of the loop, missing the office bants, and finding it impossible to keep a tab on the daily office goings-on (what? Everyone went out for impromptu drinks last Thursday? Dammit!).

And even though you avoid office interruptions, you soon discover a whole new world of distractions. Looking in the fridge on the hour, letting the dog out or taking delivery of every other b*****’s Amazon delivery because word’s got out that ‘there’s always someone in at number 11’.

It does make me wonder if the reality of long-term WFH is not all it’s cracked up to be. Of course, it’s good to know the option is there if you need it.

And I definitely needed a more flexible approach to work at the end of last year when I injured my back. I was hardly able to walk upstairs to the loo, let alone make the journey into the office each day.

Fortunately, I work for a company that understand life is sometimes complicated, so it wasn’t a problem. I simply worked from home. Nearly two months later I’ve only just started making the journey into the office again and (in case you were wondering) can visit the bathroom with ease!

I regularly get asked by candidates if flexible working is available for particular roles. It’s certainly becoming more commonplace – the more candidates expect it, the more businesses will offer it. This is particularly true in tech where you’re not necessarily interacting with colleagues on a daily basis.

Saying that, every business is different. I’ve known teams who work remotely and only get together every six weeks. I’ve also known companies with strict policies against flexible working. And you know what? They all have one thing in common: they struggle to recruit!

Companies need to strike the right balance. Offering more flexible hours for those who have childcare commitments is a good place to start. As is giving staff the option to work one day a week from home, regardless of their circumstances.

Managers also need to get over the fear that workers will abuse this privilege. What flexible working actually does is show workers that employers trust and value them enough not to expect them to work nine to five.

Which brings us back to Ms Parton. When she took to the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury, the crowd was huge. And who can blame them? They were at a festival. They were living the work-life balance dream.

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