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Personal Perspectives on Productivity: Part III


W ork/life balance. Nailed it? Then you’re in the minority, because in our experience this particular productivity issue remains a constant challenge. And in everybody’s defence, the goal posts – particularly in our modern environment – are always shifting. So in this week’s post we asked our executives what they think are the biggest challenges for people in maintaining an effective work/life balance. Read on to see what key factors they identified:

Work Culture

Sure, technology has had a massive impact on work/life balance (more on this below). However, Kate Swan, Digital Marketing Manager at Goodman Fielder, makes the point that a company’s work environment is also significant. “To really ensure we maintain a healthy work/life balance, it needs to come from the top down. It must be part of a company’s values or guiding principles,” she says, citing France’s new law which stipulates that companies with more than 50 employees must establish hours when staff should not send or answer emails. “There can be pressure – either real or perceived – to work longer hours,” she adds. “Casual comments like ‘Are you a part-timer?’ when an employee leaves at 5pm can be damaging, even if they’re said in a joking manner. Expected hours of work – not just start times – should be made clear and enforced by managers to help employees maintain a healthy balance.”


Prioritising and Time Management

Unsurprisingly, many executives identified an ability to prioritise as a key issue in managing work/life balance. “It’s about having the right goals and objectives – keeping context in terms of what’s actually important and using time effectively,” says Craig Moffat, Head of Specialist Distribution at BNZ. Learning how to delegate is part of this, he believes (perfectionists and control freaks, take note). Those who struggle to maintain boundaries between work and home are often those who “try to do everything brilliantly and try to be an ‘island’ – taking the weight of the world on their shoulders,” he says. Other executives advocate the PEP principle of “living in your calendar” as an excellent way of managing your time effectively. A quick glance at your calendar will then provide you with an overview of how you’re spending your time and will highlight any imbalances you need to address – both at work and at home.


Technology

Our modern digital environment presents two key challenges: balancing 24/7 accessibility with essential down time, and managing the volume, velocity and variety of electronic data. Sure, we can achieve more in a shorter timeframe, but it’s a double-edged sword: the frenetic pace of the modern workplace erodes our perspective. And just because technology enables you to stay connected doesn’t mean you should. Set boundaries and don’t compromise, advises Swan. “For example, I try to never let work interfere with my morning workout schedule. It’s good to have measurable and achievable goals outside of work and it’s a great way to create a healthy barrier between work and home.”


Sound advice. So what works for you? As always, we’d love to hear your feedback – with modern working methods constantly evolving, this conversation will never get old. And speaking of modern working methods, that’s exactly what’s coming up in our next post: our executives look to the future with a discussion of the latest trends in work processes. Will you be up with the play?