ionStar research indicates that nearly half (45%) of us are left feeling unsatisfied given the strain that work puts on family life and leisure time. Our findings were echoed in a recent EY survey in which 40% of respondents cited longer working hours than 5 years ago. Interestingly, EY’s research found that both the increasing demands of work, and responsibilities at home were adding to this tension.
Work/life conflict persists, but alongside broad recognition – 90% according to our survey – that inflexible working conditions can lead to stress, anxiety and depression.
So, what can be done? Here’s my top three without which a healthy work/life balance will continue to evade so many.
1) Focus on outcomes
Forget facetime and refocus on whether or not your people are delivering quality work. If they are then it should not matter in the slightest how, where or even when the work gets done.
A genuine shift of emphasis towards quality, (rather than number of hours sat tapping away at the corporate PC) will go a long way to allaying the concerns of 36% of our respondents who are fearful of potential negative consequences – including missing promotions – of not being so visible in the conventional office setting.
2) Reframe the zero-hours debate
Where skills are not needed on a full time or permanent part time basis, there is a strong argument for zero hours contracts.This debate has been somewhat hijacked by the (albeit genuine) fear of systematic abuse of workers.
However non-exclusive, zero-hours contracts can allow employers to benefit enormously from its inherent flexibility, only calling on skills as and when they need them, but safe in the knowledge that confidentiality, for example, is ensured. Professionals can continue to work on interesting projects, for which their skills qualify them, whilst better achieving a work/life balance that continues to elude so many. Today’s CityAM piece explains from one lawyer’s perspective the benefits to all.
3) Fully realise the benefits of technology
Almost eight out of ten (78%) felt that technology is now so good that they can work efficiently from just about anywhere. Sixty five per cent of respondents said they work more efficiently and creatively when they can integrate their careers with their outside lives.
Until this argument is persuasively won and its essence embedded in organisations, countless hours will continue to be wasted unnecessarily commuting and ‘working from home’ will continue to be unfairly scorned as a copout.