Where do you sit on this 21st Century debate of Work Life Balance?
I spoke to a male friend of mine recently;
For about 10 days he had been working ‘virtually’ (read – ‘from home’). This was because his wife had ducked off on a holiday to visit relatives overseas, leaving him with the unenviable task of juggling his executive level work with three young kids.
The kids are all boys of course, and all a bit wild…just as they should be given their youth. However, for my friend the exec, this adjustment to his work life balance sent him temporarily wound the twist.
On the day of his wife’s return, he got up, dropped the kids to school/daycare and hot-tailed it to the airport to be reunited with his life-partner. Then, wave – hug – hello – and after a quick commute through early morning traffic, he was delivered unto the office whereby he could get back in his groove.
When I asked him how the work life balance was going a few days ago…he said, and I quote;
“Work life balance going back in the right direction: 90% work”
Now I don’t know about you, but I laughed. Out loud. Quite a lot, actually.
You see this whole catchphrase of work life balance is meaningless without any context. It has appeared so often lately that it’s fast becoming HR gobbledygook.
Try me – type it into a search engine and see what comes back…or click here.
For my friend, who loves his career as well as his wife and kids, where the scales currently even out is when he’s out of the house working – minding the kids drives him crazy! And he’s not alone (I for one, know how he feels).
And it’s not just the Dads.
In our universal search for candidates, we come across numerous Mums clinging on to their sanity until the kids reach school age, and they can rejoin the workforce – do something adult with their brain. We hear it all the time.
Here’s a great example – Mum’s Expletive-Filled Rant.
Then when the kids metamorphose into moody teenagers, both parents will do almost anything to stay at work – FOR AS LONG AS POSSIBLE.
Once the kids are grown up, out on their own – the scales tip back the other way. Now we all want more life, less work – better balance.
So what’s the story? Where’s the balance?
Thing is, there is no answer. What works for you, would send the next guy round the twist, and vice versa by the way. And what works for you right NOW, probably won’t work so well in a few years time.
It’s a continuum. A journey. Maybe even a see-saw.
Remember the see-saw, back when you were the kid, and your Dad was at work, and Mum was going insane?
That see-saw was fun, wasn’t it? You could spend ages just going up and down, up and down…running from one end to the other to make it rise up and crash back….
Try and remember you’re still on that see-saw.
There is no correct balance – no right answer. There may be no real balance at all. It’s an illusion. One minute you’ve got the perfect balance, then something changes, and you’re back see-sawing you way through life once again.
Then a return to a balanced state, then see-saw again, and on it goes.
What works for you, might only be for you. What works for one team, might not work for their colleagues in the next team. And what works for one company, might not work for the next.
It’s all one big see-saw – the Work-Life-See-Saw
So while you’re trying to remember that you’re still on that see-saw – why not also try to remember that the see-saw was fun….
And spare a thought for my friends’ wife while you’re at it – she’s going INSANE!
ALEX KELLY – 23rd OCTOBER 2015