As Sir Philip Nigel Ross Green, a British businessman and Chairman of Arcadia Group says, “it’s all about quality of life and finding a happy balance between work, and friends and family”.
Today, in the world that is progressively being digital and we are steadily being overridden by technological advancements, maintaining balance in all aspects of one’s life is getting increasingly difficult.
They say necessity is the mother of invention. But what if this time around we have complicated matters. Technology was invented to assist us, make our work easier and save us time. However, the opposite seems to be true. Technology is controlling us, we are working more than ever and we still don’t have time.
The digital age is increasingly facilitating technology to bleed in every aspect of our daily lives. So much so, that keeping one’s work and personal lives separate has become an impossible feat.
This world runs on balance and so do we. Working hard and long, even if we love our jobs is costing us in the long run. Research proves that productivity and efficiency decrease significantly if the mind and body are not given a vacation. The digital revolution was meant to enable us to work smart but we are still working hard.
Flexible hours and relaxed boundaries between work and life, allowing people to work from anywhere and at any time, is a double-edged sword. If utilised correctly, it can result in increased productivity, happier and motivated workforce, better teamwork and reduction in staff turnover. However, on the other hand, the penetration of work in personal lives can lead to stress, affecting the mental and physical health of employees and result in a decrease in efficiency.
Business leaders and managers need to lead the way to establish a culture where taking a break does not raise eyebrows on one’s credibility. We are more than ever in need of new practices and an open mindset. Instead of focusing on our medieval work routine, we need to embrace digital solutions that offer the flexibility to enhance our productivity, rather than extend our working day.
In uncertain times such as these where the entire world is facing new challenges, new routines and picking up new hobbies; balancing work and personal lives, and keeping a tab on technological interference has gained entirely new meanings.
This change in pace is teaching us to slow down; to stop, look and listen; to connect and reconnect with ourselves, our families and the world around us.
We asked professionals around the world their opinions on whether work-life balance is possible in today’s digital age or is it just a myth.
Manager of Branch Sarajevo at Central Osiguranje dd
Sarajevo, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Digital technology is designed to be a tool that serves people, facilitates communication and connects them. 5G, Artificial Intelligence, IoT, Software Robots, Smart Cars, Smart Cities are all technological advancements driving significant benefits to industries, energy conservation, medicine and many other fields. However, new technologies have quickly penetrated into the work environment and private life. It presents an already existing huge influence on the management of companies and mode of work.
The large number of people work as self-employed or freelancers with no fixed hours, which seemingly gives them personal freedom. Yet, the boundary between business and private life is increasingly blurred, as e-mails are checked in the evenings on weekends, as they spend more time in the virtual world. The originally conceived role of helping people work less and more efficiently, turns into the opposite in which a person’s commitment to technology becomes an end in itself.
I believe that over time, people will be able to use the benefits of technology in a way that will allow them to use their free time to improve the quality of the private lives, socialising and engaging in activities, which brings them happiness and pleasure.
DR JAMSHAID ANWAR CHATTHA
Islamic Banking Supervision Expert; Former ASG, IFSB; Ex-Central Banker
STX to IMF; Program Leader to Toronto Centre
The short answer is absolutely “yes”, but it is extremely challenging to maintain such an equilibrium between the personal and professional life, given the high expectations digital connectivity and swiftness has brought in, be it in office or in social life.
Work-life balance is not just an important consideration for an employee, it is equally central for an organisation to achieve efficiency and productivity through motivated workforce. While the magic reclines in a person’s ability and his background to separate work and home, the operating environment and job satisfaction at the workplace certainly plays an important role in achieving work-life balance.
Within the corporate environment, one of the key things that essentially affects work-life balance is how your supervisor or manager treats you. A good supervisor – competent with professional integrity, appreciative and caring for his team – will have a positive effect on the work-life balance of a staff.
No matter what, work stress should stay at work and not perforate one’s personal life. In office we need to work smartly and everyone should try to find their “golden hour”, a time when someone is very productive. On the other hand, we should not allow the use of social media to overcome or take away time from our loved ones.
One thing I have learned is that, if you are spending quality time with your family; you are likely to succeed at work as well, despite the tough and challenging environment.
Professor of Finance at Faculty of
Economics and Business, University of Padjadjaran
Technology through digitalisation is redefining the way we work and behave today. Our work life forms are now completely different, freer and more flexible. Every business leader can relate to this problem and face these challenges at a personal as well as organisational level. Updating one’s mindset is an important thing to do in the first place that allows us to rediscover the way we manage our work. Cultivating a culture of trust and effective communication among team members is essential for practicing flexible work policies. Inspiring success stories about work-life balance can ensure new role models.
But change is never easy and takes time. It depends on the strong commitment of the actors in the digital system of workplaces. The inability to stay away from work due to constant connections via smartphones and IoT has caused many people to juggle their work while maintaining a private life with family and friends outside the office. Self-discipline will be the next issue in the digital age. But I truly believe that the future of work will definitely be more flexible. Working smart and flexible is an ongoing journey for us to create workplaces that are more resilient and sustainable.
Business Development at Minhaj Advisory
During this technologically ‘disrupted and disturbed’ digital age of IR 4.0, needless to mention that the work, life and business have been transformed due to the technological evolution. Parallelly, the work-life balance is being debated and discussed in the light of technological advancement in the mainstream for the last two decades.
Effectively managing boundaries between these two blended spectra of work and life is harder than ever in this digital age as we carry our Siamese twin siblings, i.e. gadget screens, in our pockets round the clock. I believe that the corporate work culture leads the way in this regard and influences many professionals by making them stay them online and enable them in work mode even after normal working hours. And finally making them ‘work martyrs’ by attend calls and replying to emails regardless of the time.
As such, establishing a clear work-life boundary plays a pivotal role in maintaining a healthy, wealthy and productive mindset. As such, striving for a greater divide between work and personal life is possible and pragmatic by maintaining a ‘screenless & disconnected’ quality time and space in the personal and social life. This will shape our management and leadership skills while allowing us to propel a full-potential working culture.