The future of work-life balance

The future of work-life balance

Technology has bought an abundance of societal changes, and adapting to these shifts in the workplace is important to retaining a happy workforce.

Employers have often encouraged ‘home life’ and ‘work life’ to be two separate entities. However, with our ability to now work anywhere in the world with a Wi-Fi connection, and employee’s wanting a better work-life balance - with one in three citing it as a top priority – a more blended approach to work-life integration could be the way forward, a recent report by Robertson Cooper, in partnership with the Bank Workers Charity, suggests.

The report states that the benefits of “integration allows workers to experience more optimal work-life situations that enable them to maximise their performance.”

However, there are downfalls with “work-life integration [placing] greater personal responsibility upon workers to manage all of their commitments” - potentially increasing stress.

Speaking to Executive Grapevine is Paula Brockwell, Head of Client Delivery at Robertson Cooper. She comments: "Integration doesn't mean working 24 hours, it means creating a rhythm of working that allows you to deliver on your job goals in a way that supports and enables the other roles and responsibilities you have in life."

Paul Barrett, Head of Wellbeing at the Bank Workers Charity, says: “In a large organisation flexible working can never be ‘a one-size fits all’. The flexible working policy needs to be open and not too prescriptive, recognising that employee needs and priorities differ, and these differences will influence the particular patterns of work that best suit them."

“Flexible working can be tailored for individuals within a large organisation in a number of ways. Firstly, by creating a structure that line managers can use to create a sustainable deal that suits both manager and employee. Secondly, support needs to be given to line managers to enable them to focus on outcomes rather than time spent when setting goals for staff”, Brockwell adds.

Barrett concludes: “It’s also important to recognise that there is usually significant variance across organisational departments around how easily flexible working can be applied. The answer is to have a policy that allows for local decision making, but in the context of an overarching policy position: that managers are expected to view flexible working requests sympathetically, whilst always taking account of business needs. Discussions at local level between the employee and their manager are the best way of establishing an optimal work pattern [that is] acceptable to both the employee and the business.

"It falls to line managers to keep a watching brief on team members working flexibly, to check it is not becoming a source of stress to them instead of improving their lives. This monitoring is particularly important when an employee is adopting a flexible work pattern for the first time, as they may not fully realise what they’re letting themselves in for and, at least initially, may not always get it right."

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