For many of us Floridians, work takes up most of our waking hours. We leave for the office at the crack of dawn, and come home when night has fallen. Sadly, this overemphasis on work can lead some of us to neglect our well-being. And that's ironic, given that the Sunshine State is well-known as a vacation destination.
You’ve heard the term “work-life balance.” This phrase has been bandied around for decades, but what does it mean, really?
What is work-life balance?
Work-life balance is achieved when you hold the priorities of both your career and your personal life as equally important. By doing so, you create harmony between your professional and personal lives. Some prefer to call it work-life integration, as both are woven into a state of equilibrium.
Unfortunately, it’s easier to spot the lack of work-life balance. Often, this happens when there’s an increase in responsibilities on one side of the equation. For example, if you get promoted, you'll likely end up working more hours. Vice versa, if you and your spouse have a baby, you’ll need more personal time.
Why is work-life balance important?
There are numerous advantages to employees having a good work-life balance: reduced stress, less risk of burning out, and a healthier sense of well-being.
The benefits of work-life balance extend to employers as well. Having a happier and healthier staff means fewer absences, better productivity, and more savings. Happy employees are more loyal, too.
How does one create a better work-life balance?
Achieving a healthy work-life balance is about being flexible with your schedule so that you can work and still have the time and energy to play. It’s not about distributing your hours equally between work and leisure. In fact, it’s okay to spend more time at work on some days and more time with family and friends on other days.
If you want to achieve a better work-life balance, keep in mind the following:
- There is no perfect work-life balance. If your goal is to achieve a perfectly equal balance, then you’re setting yourself up for failure. Instead of perfection, aim for something realistic. If on some days you need to stay longer at the office, then so be it. But don’t stress it, because you’ll make up for those days in the future. The key is for you to remain fluid and open to reassess your plans accordingly. Balance happens over time.
- Find a job you like. There's truth to the saying, “Find a job you like, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” When you’re passionate about your job, then it ceases to be work for you. Of course, you don’t have to love every aspect of your job, and there will be days when things won’t go your way. But if you love what you do, then it’s easier to handle the occasional unpleasantries.
- Make your health a priority. Always take care of your physical, mental, and emotional health. You cannot be productive if you’re often sick. So don’t be afraid to take a leave of absence to stay healthy and be a better, more productive employee.
- You have the right to unplug. In this connected world, you’re always just a click away from your boss and colleagues. But you also need time to decompress for sanity’s sake. That’s why it’s okay to unplug once in a while to recover from your daily stress. Unplugging also gives you space to think and grow. And speaking of me time....
- Go on a vacation. Think of vacation as an extended unplugged time. Take time off to fully rest and recharge, both physically and mentally. Go travel. Engage in hobbies and activities that interest you. And if you’re worried that taking a long leave will disrupt the workflow, don’t be. It’s just a matter of proper scheduling and giving your team a heads up. This is when having a supportive manager is important. They should allow staff members a decent amount of paid time off. (We’ll discuss in detail later how a manager can support their employees.)
- Spend time with your loved ones. Aside from me time, you also need time to be with the people you love. To ensure that you won't have any scheduling conflicts, it’s best if you also calendar your activities with family and friends.
- Set work boundaries. To avoid burnout, do not bring home work. Inform your team if you’ll be incommunicado during your personal time, and avoid answering work emails and calls when you’ve already left the office. Also, set your work hours — this is especially important during this period when many of us are working from home. Because the lines between office and home are blurred, it’s up to us to declare when work stops.
- Manage your productivity. Set your priorities and goals. Stick to your to-do list and avoid distractions. Know what time of the day you are most productive, then manage your tasks accordingly.
How to be a supportive manager
To achieve a viable work-life balance, you need management support. If you’re a manager, here’s how to create a healthy work-life culture in the office.
- Know your employees’ goals. Every employee will have different work-life goals. Find out their personal objectives so you can help each staff member better.
- Inform your employees of their options. Not all employees know what work-life balance options they can take. Take time to regularly advise your staff of their options so they can plan accordingly.
- Lead by example. It’ll be hypocritical to expect your employees to not answer work calls at night when you’re the one calling them outside office hours. If you walk the walk and talk the talk, your staff will follow.
- Be proactive. Stay ahead of the curve by knowing what’s the latest in work-life balance initiatives. What works today may become irrelevant in a couple of years. Give your employees new options to keep them fully engaged.
The rise of more flexible workplaces
Because of the global pandemic, many businesses are rethinking the way we work and where we work. Experts believe that more flexible work options for employees will become the new normal. As we navigate to create new work cultures, this is also the opportune time to come up with new work-life balance practices.
It’s easier for your staff to achieve work-life balance if your office equipment is in good working condition. Your employees’ stress levels go up while their productivity suffers whenever their computer or the whole IT network goes down, even for just a few minutes. You need a robust and reliable IT infrastructure to ensure that your employees can work efficiently and uninterrupted.
Make sure your IT network is always in tip-top shape. You should partner with an experienced managed IT services provider like HERO Managed Services, LLC. For over 20 years, we’ve been helping Florida businesses succeed by implementing cutting-edge IT solutions and providing proactive maintenance and 24/7 support. If you’re in or around the Tampa, Sarasota, and Orlando areas, give us a call today.