GOOD AT LIFE
New York Life | December 11, 2023
Draw on our pre- and post-pandemic experiences and follow these tips.
Since the pandemic the idea of work-life balance has been under the microscope. Many of us are now evaluating the best way to manage our professional and personal lives.
Working under lockdown also changed the way we looked at our lives. For some it was a time to reflect on what could change for the better, for others it was time to be thankful for what we took for granted.
So, how can we draw on our pre- and post-pandemic experiences, to build a better work-life balance?
1. Value working in the office
Last year saw a revival in office working: While 51% of companies have a hybrid approach and 42% maintain an in-office policy, just 7% are still fully remote.1 Going into the office has its perks. There can be benefits to having a clear separation between work and home, while catching up with colleagues in person can be good for your mental health.2
2. Reconsider when meetings are necessary
Unnecessary meetings can impact a company’s bottom line as well as the motivation of its workforce. On average we spend 18 hours of our working week in meetings, and it’s estimated a third of that time could be axed and put to better use.3
Maximizing productivity improves our mood, fulfils a sense of achievement, and is also more cost efficient for businesses overall. Consider whether a meeting is essential – can an email or quick call be enough? Sometimes we can take the initiative of answering queries and completing tasks solo, rather than pulling multiple stakeholders into a meeting.
3. Enjoy the transitional aspect of commuting
For many the main benefit of working from home is avoiding the commute. But recent research from Wayne State and Rutgers University suggests that commuting creates a liminal space – transitioning from one place and time to another – leaving the brain fully switched off and recharged.4
Commuting is an opportunity to think and reflect, to read and write, to organize life admin or answer personal emails. So, instead of maintaining that pre-pandemic attitude that the commute is time wasted, consider viewing it through the post-pandemic lens – as a valuable use of your time.
4. Pick up the phone
We spend on average nearly 30% of the day sending and reading email.5 While some people prefer the art of typing rather than old-fashioned conversation, it sometimes makes better sense to phone a colleague rather than add to their pile of unopened emails.
Calls might be better when you need an immediate response or feel that your explanation might be better interpreted over the phone. Communicating something complicated over email can be time-consuming for both the sender and the reader. Likewise, if something is urgent or personal, email could be too slow or interpreted in the wrong way.
Email might be preferable when you have lots of information to share with multiple people at once. But calling a colleague offers you the chance to catch up about your weekend, that new TV show, or anything else not necessarily work-related. And that’s important for keeping things balanced during the workday – we can’t always be “on”.
5. Flex your time if you can
Structuring your day in a way that works better for you can have a positive, long-lasting effect on your work-life balance. It’s no wonder that 87% of people would seize the opportunity of flexible working.6
Since the industrial revolution, the rigidity of work demanded that we clock in and clock out at a certain time. But over the course of the pandemic, attitudes began to shift.
When employees were given the opportunity to work remotely on a full- or part-time basis, some asked if they could start work earlier or later, so long as they completed their daily hours. Many companies obliged, acknowledging the benefits in work satisfaction, commitment, and productivity.
So, if your employer permits it, test the waters and see what works for you.
People are no longer asking for a positive work-life balance – they expect it. A great company culture, career progression, and job security are important, but businesses now have to compete on fostering a healthy work-life balance.
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