Work/Life Balance or Bust!!!!!

According to a Google commissioned survey of European SME’s, 80% of employees have made some sort of work-related New Year’s resolution for 2013.

Find ways of working more efficiently – 42%
Interact with customers more – 26%
Leave work on time more often – 26%
Interact with colleagues more – 21%
Be more flexible about where they work from (e.g. home, other offices, etc) – 20%

The “interact with colleagues” response was a bit surprising, if not misleading. However, the other four are very interesting. It shows that people are seeking to improve their life and efficiency.

Most people recognize that they have to be prepared to do more if they want to be employed in the current economic conditions. There are two things that strike me about this:

Work vs Life
We are still having people look for work/life balance as a solution to their problem. WRONG way to look at it. It is not work/life balance, but rather people should be seeking WORK/LIFE INTEGRATION. This especially applies to people who are having to do more than was previously expected of them.

Work/life balance pitches the two against each other in a confrontational manner. It makes it competitive and implies that the two are mutually exclusive and should not mix. It gives the notion of living two separate lives.

Work/life integration seeks to find ways to achieve harmony. Both feed off each other and both value the others role in a person’s life and as much as possible are seamless. Integration is about combining things to create the “whole”… this care the whole person.

Efficiency vs Effectiveness
My second point is that chasing efficiency focuses on the process, whilst effectiveness focuses on the outcome. Don’t get me wrong, efficiency is important, but when setting goals, a focus on effectiveness may be a better way to look at things. Efficiency focuses on our competency to do the task or job, whereas effectiveness looks at the best way to achieve an outcome.

When setting goals for work and life, looking for ways to be effective is probably a better place to start. We can all be busy….. but not all the things we are busy doing are being productive. I said to my team this week, we all need to look at what we are doing and ask ourselves how we can be more productive with how we spend our time. That may mean stop doing some things that keep us busy but don’t take us towards our objectives.

It is about how we look at things. If we are pitching work and life against each other and the looking for efficiency, we are likely to become more stressed and not achieve what we want.

Work/Life Integration means allowing both aspects of our life understand the other. Some companies encourage the employee to bring the family in to see the work they do, see the place they are working, meet the people involved and get a feel for what they do. This means that when the employee goes home and talks about their day, the family understand what is being said. It also means that the family appreciate what pressures they are facing and help make the transition from work to home environments.

In 2013, I think it is time to see things differently and appreciate that work and life need to be integrated and focus on how to achieve that with effective goals and then efficient practices.

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