Can organisations help staff manage time and achieve work-life balance?

How much time an individual wishes to devote to personal and professional life is completely a matter of choice, feel experts

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One of the most talked about issues in the corporate world, is work-life balance. However, with the ‘work-from-home’ concept entering the ecosystem, the boundaries between the professional and personal lives of employees have become faint. Work-life integration has almost done away with set working hours. Experts are of the view that with more flexibility, comes more need for individual responsibility.

If it was like a school time table, one could have easily set an alarm system to indicate the time to move out of one subsystem and enter the other. Unfortunately, here, the pressures mount such that often, multiple subsystems press for attention at the same time. 

Adil Malia, CEO, The Firm

Rohit Iyer, director – L&D, PWC, says, “There has been a drastic change in the work culture, in the last one year, due to the pandemic. At the office, one is time-bound, and therefore, one knows how much time one has to finish off certain work. While working from home, however, one enjoys flexibility, in terms of time. This is where one is tested for discipline. How a person manages to balance family and work, while doing official work with the family around, shows how disciplined that person is.” Agreeing to the fact that people are different and come from different environments, he says, “This is an issue to be discussed in a broader way. There is no single formula to achieve work-life balance. The sense of time management varies from individual to individual, and it is truly commendable if one manages to succeed in that area.”

With the penetration of AI tools and technology, the professional world has become flexible in terms of not just time, but also location. While some people may prefer not to carry pending official work home, others may prefer being at home on time, even if that means having to complete the work at home. To a great extent, it is true that when, where, and how a person works is completely a psychological matter — a matter of choice to be precise. With a growing career, responsibilities will tend to grow and so will the workload. However, the fact remains that the number of hours in a day does not increase. So, how to organise the day depends on the individual’s choice. Only the concerned individual is fully aware of the nature and volume of work, and therefore, only she / he can decide how the time has to be divided.

Commenting further about the individual approach of balancing work and personal life, Avadhesh Dixit, CHRO, Acuity Knowledge Partners, says, “Work-life balance is a personal achievement. While organisations have a role to play, it is primarily the individual who will know what the workload is like and how much time is to be dedicated to the family. Therefore, it is entirely up to the individual to strike a balance between professional and personal life.”

While the ‘work-from-home’ culture has made the work schedule flexible, for some, it may have become tiring. Elaborating on the role of the organisations in helping employees cope under such circumstances, Dixit says, “How a person manages to balance the two worlds is completely an individual approach. We as a company can provide certain policies, such as assured leaves, or introduce stress-relieving measures, and so on. However, how a person absorbs these depends entirely on his/her own mindset.” He further asserts, “While working from home allows people to choose how, where and when to work, it also makes them more responsible in terms of managing time.”

Work-life balance is a personal achievement. While organisations have a role to play, it is primarily the individual who will know what the workload is like and how much time is to be dedicated to the family. Therefore, it is entirely up to the individual to strike a balance between professional and personal life.

Avadhesh Dixit, CHRO, Acuity Knowledge Partners

The fact is that work is a part of life itself, and therefore, these are integrated by nature. All that people need to do is clearly differentiate between their professional and personal lives. The process is very organic in nature and with no specific formula to achieve it.

Adil Malia, CEO, The Firm, wishfully hopes for a formula to achieve balance. He rightfully points out, “If it was like a school time table, one could have easily set an alarm system to indicate the time to move out of one subsystem and enter the other. Unfortunately, here, the pressures mount such that often, multiple subsystems press for attention at the same time.” Elaborating the fact that people should be skilled enough to pay equal attention to all aspects of life, he says, “Machines and systems are unifocussed. Machines do not get married, are not expected to shoulder responsibilities of parental care, need not raise responsible children, are not required to socialise, and have not obligations beyond the work-systems they are designed for. They need not bear pressures from counter-demanding subsystems as people do. Therefore, ability of human beings to manage pressures from conflicting sub-systems, all vying for equal attention, and being able to perform equally well everywhere is no mean achievement.”

At the office, one is time-bound, and therefore, one knows how much time one has to finish off certain work. While working from home, however, one enjoys flexibility, in terms of time. This is where one is tested for discipline.

Rohit Iyer, director – L&D, PWC

The debate and discussion over work-life balance will continue to exist as long as the corporate culture exists. It is beyond doubt that if the corporate work culture enters the personal space for good, or encroaches into a significant portion of it permanently, then the discussion will be diverted. Then, the concern will be how to divide the day between personal and professional life instead of how to balance the two. However, the truth is that the conflict between the two will remain. Even though the organisations can play their part by helping people destress and enjoy their personal time, the changing workforce structure indicates that allocating time for work and personal purpose is clearly a person’s personal and psychological choice.

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