Do you carry your office back home ?
In this age of 24/7 work culture it is difficult if not impossible to compartmentalise work and personal life. Gone are the days when people could forget about work once they left office. With businesses going increasingly global, operating across time zones is more the rule than exception. Lean and mean organisations make long hours an inescapable reality.
This makes the challenge of work-life balance all the more difficult. Yet, one can ignore it at one’s own peril — risking burnouts, breakdowns, professional setbacks and implosion in personal life.
While carrying work back home is a given in today’s world — what we can learn to do is not carry our “office” with us in a figurative sense. Just as we do not take our home along to our work place.
What one really means by that is — we should leave our office persona behind when coming back home. Just as we take off our formal clothes and get into more comfortable attire in the house — a switching of mental gear is equally important.
An acquaintance from the ad world, who had once tried his hand at commercial movie making and worked with some super stars told me, “these actors are always acting”. Not having seen any artist from close quarters — I cannot vouch for the veracity of his observation. But, my take away from the conversation was — we should not continue with the same behaviour pattern at home as what we apply at work, just as we would not be the parent, child, spouse or partner to our colleagues in office.
Each one of us have to find out our own way of striking the balance or making the transition between work and home. Some like to cook for unwinding, others do the dishes or put the kids to sleep — to shake off the guilt for working after dinner. See what works best for you and the family. There are no set formulae.
With more and more people now working out of home — these principles are equally applicable for self-employed individuals. For them — segregating the two is often far more complex. I have a friend in the US — who has his office at home. But, every morning he would routinely leave home with his brief case and lunch box only to re-enter his study by another door. He would follow the same routine in reverse at the end of the day. Might appear odd — but there is certainly and underlying logic to it.
That is why, perhaps, the term “work-life balance” is slowly giving way to “work-life integration”.
What is work without a life and what is life without work ?