This is when I know my staff is comfortable with my work-life balance approach

We all know how it is — some sort of vague work-life balance mambo jambo is sent around at our workplaces. It sounds supportive but somewhat restrictive, it tries to empower the individual to decide but heaves a bunch of guidelines, processes and paperwork, and the whole thing goes on. For workplaces that have been around for a while, old hard hierarchical culture and expectations lives on. Seeing Macbooks-totting millennials hanging around lounge areas, couches/sofas, sitting together, chatting and working together, reminiscence of a high school / college time gone by, it is definitely not something the Gen X-ers and Baby Boomers are used to. So, telling my staff that I truly value all our work-life balance can sometime feel a little hollow and not genuine because while I may look like them, I’m not, but I persisted and made sure I live true to what I stand for.

Whether it was to take care of a sick child or parent (in the US, the family support structure is not as readily available as Singapore), working-from-home to focus on rushing out a legal contract or new set of marketing collateral, I made it known that all requests will be “automatically granted” and each one is expected to take responsibility and ownership for his/her own work results and personal time.

But, a slightly different from normal request came to me on one Sunday late evening some time ago — it was a text and it read: “hey boss, had a tiring weekend, will come in late tomorrow morning. need to catch up on some sleep, thanks”. I paused for a moment, and in that moment, I felt a small tinge of victory. When my team feels comfortable enough with me, knows and believes in what I stand for, this is how they will manage their own work-life balance and time in the office.

Small tinge of victory, but a big positive assurance that my team believes I am real about their work & life balance.

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