Finding Work - Life Balance
Do you ‘work to live’ or ‘live to work’? The answer, says Peter Dingle PhD, can have a major effect on your health.
As Gandhi emphasised, “The purpose of life is not to increase its speed.”
In the early 20th Century, George Bernard Shaw predicted that we would need to work two hours a day in the year 2000. While good in theory, many people now find it hard to get out of the office but, even worse, they find it hard to get the office out of them.
For most workers, work-life balance is a cultural fantasy. Changes in the work environment within the past decades have led to steady increases in work intensity and job demands. The increase in dual-career couples and single-parent households, and the associated decrease in traditional, single-earner households, suggests that responsibilities for work, housework, and childcare are no longer limited to traditional gender roles.
With all the conveniences of modern technology - laptop, mobile, pager, email - it is even easier to cram more into our overused system. ‘Call waiting’ now means we can speak to a few people on the phone at any point in time. Modern technology, far from increasing our leisure time, has enabled us to take our work wherever we go. Instead of freeing up more time for leisure, the progress of technology has, in fact, done the complete opposite for many of us.
For many people, it is probably acceptable to sacrifice long hours at a time to complete a professional project, as long as such a period of professional productivity is followed by something that replenishes us personally or financially. And we keep working until we get through this tough patch or crisis. But for some the crisis never ends or just joins onto the next one. We can no longer separate work and life; there are now often no boundaries or rules except that work most often dominates. Many jobs now entail high flexibility and permeability, facilitating role blurring, and unclear boundaries for work and home time.
Flexibility seen as a plus
On the positive side, results of most studies indicate that perceived job flexibility is related to improved work-family balance. Perceived job flexibility appears to be beneficial both to individuals and businesses. Given the same workload, individuals with perceived job flexibility have more favourable work-family balance. Likewise, employees with perceived job flexibility are able to work longer hours before workload negatively impacts their work-family balance (1). The only problem with these and other studies is that they ask the person involved with the work about their perceived work-life balance, not their partners or family who may have a different perspective...
>> Continue reading this article >>
Read other Articles