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Work life balance has rather become an emotional word over time. The moment the phrase is uttered, it triggers strong responses both for and against the concept.
The most accepted and prevalent perception of work life balance runs as follows:
- Work means task at job for employees; work at business for self-employed and entrepreneurs.
- Life means personal life, outside of work.
- Balance means to give due consideration and enough time to both so that both run smoothly.
- The consequences of imbalance are several. Failure at work will likely affect performance negatively. It will hurt today on account of lost growth opportunities and shall hurt even more tomorrow because people shall come from behind and takeover higher positions.
- Failure in personal life will lead to conflicts, perpetual unhappiness and strained relations. Stress at home shall reach the office and disturb work performance thereby adding to overall stress level.
It is therefore advisable to keep work life balance in review periodically. But is this the end of work life balance story? Or is there more to it? I think there is.
Let us look at some other aspects.
Most of our active, awake time is spent at work. It is about nine hours office time; add to it traveling time to and from office; then add to it the getting-ready-to-go time; then add to it occasional late-sittings; then add to it occasional after office functions such as dinners; then add to it occasional off-site meetings requiring travel to some other destination and staying there for a few days; then add to it the social visits at your place, or your social visits to others related to office. After such extensive involvement with ‘WORK’, there is hardly any time left for ‘LIFE’, If we may say. Mind it, we are talking about normal working people, not WORKAHOLICS. What happens to Workaholics is another story.
Isn’t it surprising that most of us still manage to do good at job and do good at home? I know this may not sit very well with the working wives who know they have to carry dual burden of work and family while men do work only and relax at home. It is an entire subject in itself requiring separate writing. Shall do InshaAllah.
For some people, work-life balance really becomes a challenge. There are definite reasons for this which may include personal disorganization, family issues, workplace issues, organizational culture, peer pressure for late-sitting, non-availability of adequate resources, non-supporting colleagues, capability issues, technological issues, and so on.
Back to the question I raised earlier. Is there a life outside work? Or after work?
Personally, I have always been an advocate of keeping life alive. I always said ‘job is part of life; not the whole life’. I have preached it and practiced it throughout my career. Similarly, I have been a vocal opponent of regular late-sitting. I believe that if the job is really for more than one person, then an additional person should be hired. Late sitting has its own set of reasons which may be discussed separately.
I also understand that the work life balance topic should not be hurriedly summed up; it should be opened up and viewed in detail. I shall therefore follow it up with a couple of more blogs.
I wish to raise one point for thinking here. Is there some way that work and life could be merged in a manner that one could seamlessly move from one to other? Suppose, if we learn to love what we do, we shall not return home exhausted and lifeless. Suppose, if the work environment is not toxic, we shall not return home frustrated and powerless. Suppose, if the bosses were not so exploiting and tyrannical, we shall not return home feeling angry and revengeful.
And Suppose, if the organizational culture is nurturing and nourishing, we shall come home happy and fulfilled. Suppose, if the seniors make sure they respect the self-esteem of others, we shall come home feeling pride and fully engaged with our work.