Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Is balance possible?

Image by Vicente Villamon
The downside of technology is that some people never leave work. It used to be that when a person left work they went home. Unless they were a work-a-holic or had a job where they were specifically "on call" like a fireman or doctor then they could sit, unwind, and spend time with their family or a hobby.

In today's world this concept is a lot harder to achieve. Most people have cell phones, and many of them use this as their only phone. This means that the boss has the number. So when a co-worker doesn't show up or machine breaks at 3 am - the employee gets a phone call - even when they aren't at work. With remote access to the company network, email can be checked and dealt with at all hours - not just during the 9-5. 

This lack of boundaries has created the concept of finding work/life balance. Finding ways to leave work at work so that the employee can have time for their family and friends. There are several theories on how to do this. I have one friend who parks at the end of her driveway and takes a moment to relax before approaching the house. I have another friend who turns off her husband's phone and hides it so that the constant 'bing' of new emails doesn't keep her up at night. While these may seem like strong tactics it's what some people need to be able to disengage from the work mindset. But is it really balance? 

Life is about putting energy into those things that are important to you. A single person who is driven for success in a job that he loves will happily spend more time with work then family. A man with children who is comfortable with his situation may want to skip the after hours bar hop and schmoozing to be home. While their work and life may not be balanced they are in perspective to their goals. And that may be more important than balance.