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BALANCING THE IMBALANCE : WORK AND LIFE

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Col. Dr VRK Prasad - Chancellor, The ICFAI University, Meghalaya, (Former Vice Chancellor, The ICFAI University, Nagaland)

21-May-2020

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Life is no bed of roses for anyone but would be full of ups and downs. A reasonable balance could be worked out between office and home with a bit of flexibility, and lots of give and take attitude among the working couples. With abundance of material already available on the topic, certain practical tips may come handy.

and on the seventh day God ended his work which he has made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he has made - Genesis 2:2 King James Bible

Thats how people say that the idea of a Sunday has come into the lives of humans when it was thought that rest is vital for any productive work. Aim was to ensure a balance between ones work and his personal life so that one works for six days and on Sunday the seventh day he takes rest and also cares for his family. This was the concept during the industrial revolution where the nature of work was more manual and tiring. Then the system moved on to having Saturdays as half holidays basically to cater for Jewish workers to observe their Sabbath which naturally irked others. The Great Depression brought in five day week concept with the advent of more white collared work .Longer work hours over five days culminating in two days of rest for self and to attend to family needs was thought to be more productive resulting in quality output.

But the big questions remain as to what extent the intended objective of five day week is being met? is the employee as productive as he is expected to be? If so what about the quality of the output? Last but not the least is, is the employee domestically happy specially when the spouse is also working? Which mostly is the case in urban settings? Why do working couples prefer to remain DINK (Double Income No Kids) and the most disturbing phenomenon is the rising divorce rates among them despite long pre wedding courtship. What kind of stress levels each of them could be facing which may be even disturbing their physical intimate lives. Needless today that matrimonial disharmony shows in the work performance of both the partners. As kids come up the toll on the energy levels of the lady is heavy at least till the kids come upto self- manageable stage. Organisations may take solace in the now liberalised provisions of maternity/ paternity leave, flexi hours and work from home etc. More often than not it was observed that flexi hours and work from home tended to keep an employee more busy than while one is in the office. After all among both partners each has a fixed amount of energy only to spend on office work, trekking long distances, and in domestic chores. Added to this, some couples also have the added responsibility of looking after their aged parents and even siblings if any. Conflicts arise when things cross a certain threshold. All this takes a heavy toll on physical and mental well being of both the partners. God save the situation if a partner falls sick and at the same time the other has changedthe job and is the process of settling down. Yes some companies are sensitive to such compassionate situations in allowing the new employee to take his time in taking care of his life partner but not all organisations may extend the gesture.

Above list is by no means a comprehensive one and there could be, rather would be many more such situations in the lives of working couples causing considerable imbalance between their homes and offices. Certain other issues not related to work but still cause concerns of balance are of finance as partners while single were used to have their own tastes and spending styles. Brand consciousness and societal or peer pressures on owning things of need/luxury or pompous celebrations of events and expensive outings etc. result in spending more than earning thus getting into debt traps with indiscriminate use of credit cards. The blame game starts . Hence a sound financial management as a couple is the need of the hour while enjoying all the comforts of life as per ones tastes with the hard earned money to the extent possible, of course with an eye on the familys balance sheet.

Well one should understands that life is no bed of roses for anyone but would be full of ups and downs. A reasonable balance could be worked out between office and home with a bit of flexibility, and lots of give and take attitude among the working couples. With abundance of material already available on the topic, certain practical tips may come handy.

A definite line needs to be drawn between technical gadgets and social media and the family life.

There is nothing like your work and my work but it is our work. No issues on its nature. Same goes for money too

Good old style things to do on paper on a daily basis may be a better option over smart phone as the phone tends to divert ones attention.

Learn to manage your own things with proper time management, by cutting the clutter.

Have your own me only time to do things you really like (stress busters)

Shed the rigidity changes keep happening all over all the time.

Once home no office work unless it is an emergency.

No late hours working no work has ever taken more than eight hours per day if only one has not wasted time in gossip and at the coffee machine.

Curb the tendency to volunteer for, or to accept additional workloads (sincere workers are always over loaded), dont be a keen kumar.

Have frequent get togethers with friends ensuring no over burdening of any lady/family in the process.

Take total off from all chores of the house for one day in a month just dont do anything. Let body and mind relax.

Not to be too career conscious, do your work sincerely, career will take care of itself, it did for many. Neither you nor your work are indispensable for the company.

Last but not the least, have due regard for each others likes and dislikes and even to little weaknesses as well. Ego should be the last word in family relationship.

Work life balance issues are mostly seen among IT couples only while in other professions like medical, education, government, including central services, banks etc somehow they manage to strike a reasonable balance. Yes certain adjustments are always made with active support from the managements in terms of postings and work timings etc. Though even IT companies are doing their fair bit in extending host of facilities, like crches, play schools, gyms, recreational areas, state of the art work places, and food courts etc,there is still a scope for further improvements. Of all they need to be more sensitive to the peculiar problems faced specially by Indian working couples which are totally different from what they have among people of other cultures.The typical Indian social obligations which one needs to attend to, cause a tremendous strain on Indian working couples particularly to which the organisations need to adopt an out of the way approach. Of course a perfect understanding and a deep of sense of adjustment among couples themselves beats them all. Finally if, as a couple they decide to be happy on come what may basis nothing on earth, not even their work can make them feel any different for happiness is a choice and not a result.