The Positive Impact of a Good Work/Life Balance
Small words, big meaning
“Great work life balance” is a sentence you see in a lot of job postings these days and is a big deciding factor for people (myself included) into accepting a position in a company or not. It has also become a reason why people leave companies these days. Even for me, when I was looking for a new position while at my previous company, where I was not being given opportunities to maintain a good work/life balance was a big factor for leaving!
Providing a good work/life balance requires a lot of effort and trust from the employer towards their employees, but in the end, that’s why people may stick around. As of October 2019, I have been working at Terem Technologies for over a year now, and this is the first place where I have experienced the positive impact a good work/life balance can actually have when a company knows the meaning of this short sentence, and promotes it in the right way.
I understand the fact that it is not always the company who is at blame when not being able to provide this, it may be that the employees abuse the flexibility which in turn causes the company to become strict. One person can ruin it for the whole bunch. If an employer trusts you with flexible timings, that means a higher productivity is expected from you, and you must deliver! And if there is critical stuff required at any time, that takes priority over flexible timings. A balance is always required.
Importance for me
I have a wife and a two year old attention-seeking-over-active baby boy by the grace of God. I also have a permanent medical condition which sometimes requires me to take some extra rest. So you can imagine why a good work/life balance would be important to me.
The main problem I have had in my previous employments is that there were always detailed justifications requested whenever I wanted some flexible timings even when they weren’t required. I have always made sure to be present during crunch time, and have never shied away from extra hours when required, and also made sure to never abuse the flexibility in a way that would impact the productivity of my teams. But having to provide detailed justifications when flexible timings will not affect work defeats the purpose of claiming to provide a great work/life balance as this means the company only allows flexibility when an employee has no other option rather than when the employee might “want” it. I’ll explain this with examples that are important to me:
To me, my family comes before everything else, and as a father, being an integral part of my son’s life is very important to me. Being there for my wife when she needs some one is equally important to me.
Any activities we want to do that are a little far from home are currently dependent on my availability. Up until my son was one year old (before joining Terem), we missed out on a lot of early activities that I would’ve loved to have for my son, but my working hours at the time did not allow for that. Since joining Terem, my working hours are actually longer, I have more responsibility, stricter deadlines, and yet, I am less stressed and more involved with my family than ever before.
I usually work from home once a week (sometimes twice), this flexibility has allowed me to stay home at times when my wife wasn’t feeling well, not that she couldn’t have handled situations without my help, she could have, but me being able to be there for her felt great. I am now able to take my son to productive activities which are essential for kids and also staying home when he isn’t feeling well and being all clingy and just seeking comfort. Experiencing the joy and comfort in all this has had a highly positive impact on me mentally and I feel a lot more productive now! I’m always tired, but rarely stressed.
It is essential for every employee to inform their employer about any medical conidtions that might affect their work, and I have always done the same. But the reason I’m writing about this is because in one of my previous companies in a similar situation when I requested to work from home I received a very rude message from my manager which implied that I may be using my medical condition as an excuse to slack off for the day. The above was utterly humiliating for me as I had not taken a day off, I did not jeopardize any work, and I was available remotely. That is when I decided to leave.
Thanks a lot Terem!
During my last year at Terem I have not had to face any of the above mentioned issues, me sending a message to my team that “I need a little rest so I’ll be working from home today” or any other genuine reason is enough and no extra justifications required.
Not only that, I have been given a Leadership position a few months back. This shows Terem trusts me enough and knows that me working remotely sometimes does not mean any less productivity or any compromise in the Leadership responsibilities assigned to me. I couldn’t have asked for more!
To employees who work at a place where flexible work hours are advertised, I would suggest you to actually avail them as it may in turn help you become more productive. But as mentioned earlier, never abuse it, you might just ruin it for someone who actually needs it!
To employers who advertise a “Great work life balance”, a humble request; either do it right, or don’t do it at all as it is still quite misinterpreted!