Article (July-2020)


Work Life Balance

S. Varadarajan

Designation : -   Board Advisor, Talent & Strategy enabler, Leadership Coach,

Organization : -  Gurgaon


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The COVID-19 pandemic has jolted the entire world in ways none of us have ever imagined or experienced before. The personal and organizational implications vary dramatically by setting and circumstance. Individuals and organizations are grappling with how to replace fear with hope, be realistic and optimistic, and react to today's constraints and envision tomorrow's ideals.

I believe that work-life balance, (WLB) is a myth. It's safe to say that, for many, work occupies about half of our waking hours, but work and personal life are not easily compartmentalized. To balance work and life implies the separation of the two, but new technology and evolving workplace environments are mixing business and pleasure.

WLB refers to some semblance of being able to separate work life from one's personal life and carving out a reasonable amount of time for the latter. Many people struggle with WLB, ingeneral and seem like a strange aspiration for a fulfilling life. And so the challenge, we are told, is to balance theheaviness of work with the lightness of life. Yet work is not the opposite of life. It is instead a part of life - just as family is, as are friends and community and hobbies.

So I would actually term it as work life integration or work life synergy. Work-life synergy is a mutually beneficial relationship between your personal and work life, where both complement the other.

Think of your life's many different activities as threads. Some are black, some are grey and some are white. But some of these activities appear to be made of a different substance: before you do them, you find yourself looking forward to them; while you're doing them, time speeds up and you find yourself in flow; and after you've done them, you feel energized.

So I would think that if we are approaching a role as a job, we will start looking for work life balance and look externally for help through flexible schedules, and get disappointed that they are not able to achieve the balance.However for one who looks at a role with a lot of passion to do things will look at work life integration/synergy where he or she will not crib anymore of working extra hours or taking extra time off as they are in control of their passion and way forward.

WLB today

Many companies have shifted employees to remote work arrangements. At first glance, that seems like a good thing.

Employees can continue doing their jobs and getting paid without dealing with the hassle of commuting. And with all the time saved not sitting in traffic or riding a bus, it stands to reason that working folks should have more time on their hands for household maintenance, exercise, and hobbies. But people are working longer hours now than before.

Prior to COVID-19, it was easier to pack up and unplug at the end of a long workday. There's nothing compelling employees to shut down their laptops and walk away from their desks because they're not running to beat traffic or make the next bus. So a lot of people are instead working longer and harder and are teetering on the edge of burnout because of it. Many are worried that when recession hits, with this hard work they will be able to impress their bosses and escape layoffs and keep their jobs.

Six weeks into a global work-from home experiment with no end in sight, whatever boundaries remained between work and life have almost entirely disappeared. People are overworked, stressed, and eager to get back to the office.

WLB no work lifeintegration in the days to come

Looking forward, what is clear is that even when all of this is over, we will not be in the same place we started; there will be a new normal.

This moment gives us an opportunity to shift into new practices and reset how we work. I don't think for a moment that the COVID-19 pandemic is the end of collocated work - we humans thrive on face-to-face interaction, and our innovative spirit demands it. In the post-pandemic world, those leaders who are able to blend the virtual andphysical ways of working will recover better and be more resilient for the future.You need boundaries to achieve balance between your personal and professional lives. However, the subject doesn't have to be broached ascompletely black and white. As many experts have pointed out, balance isn't about building an impenetrable wall between your personal andprofessional lives, but finding ways to connect and integrate the two.

Strive for a realistic work-life balanceand prioritize your taskscorrectly. Define your work hours and log off consciously. Don't be afraid to unplug from social media. Devote time to physical, mental and emotional self-maintenance. Be present, consistent and accountable.

Like a flowing river, which find its way to the ocean maneuvering through various blocks that appear in its way, let your life flow towards the direction of the goals you set and you will automatically discover your own work life integration.