This weekend I achieved a non-work-related goal. I successfully completed my level 1 ski instructor certification. I love to ski and I’m excited to become a better skier. My next goal is to successfully enjoy some deep powder skiing in British Columbia. I’ve tried skiing the powder before, but being from Ontario, the ice capital of the skiing universe, the powder presented a whole new challenge for me; one that required that I become a better skier.
To become a better skier, I needed to log more hours on the slopes, and I needed some instruction. It was not the number of hours I worked that prevented me from doing this, it was timing of those hours. One of the factors that made me decide to forego traditional employment in favour of contracted opportunities that allow me to work from home, was the ability to set my hours and to be on the slopes when conditions are fabulous.
In the past, leaving the office usually meant leaving work and transitioning to personal time. However, as technology improved, the ability to set boundaries between work and family life gradually disappeared. Work seeped into every waking moment. Often, checking email was the last thing I did before trying to settle for the night.
I was tired and cranky and feeling quite burnt out. Does this sound familiar? To improve my life, I made a major change, however, in retrospect, this could have been possible within a more traditional work environment. Instead of railing against what appeared to be inevitable, could I have better integrated work and home? Could I have improved moral at work by also making this possible for employees?
Currently I work many weekends and evenings when volunteers and board members are available, and I ski most mornings at 9 am when conditions are fabulous and crowds non-existent. Parents of younger children may prefer to put in a couple of hours before their children get up or after they go to bed in exchange for taking a break at 4:00 pm to shut out the work world and hear about their children’s day. Gym enthusiasts may want to recharge their batteries with a mid-day workout, and catch up at home, after dinner.
As we adapt to the disruption that technology has brought to our lives, we must avoid thinking we can turn back the clock to the days when everyone left work at work. We also have to avoid using the historical paradigm of a 9 – 5 workday in favour of a negotiation between workers and employers about how to create work-life integration that allows for the pursuit of passion. Do your employees need to be in the office for all their working hours? Is it possible for them to work from home some or all the time? Can they save on commuting time or costs?
If your workplace has regular grumbling about the intrusion of work into home and about the lack of work-life balance, perhaps a dialogue about changing it up would be beneficial. What is the give and take that the employee and the workplace can exchange to integrate work and life so that everyone wins? Think creatively. Your business and your employees will benefit.
Sandra Dunham is the sole-proprietor of Streamline New Perspective Solutions
Streamline New Perspective Solutions offers management consulting services for non-profit organizations. Please visit www.streamlinenps.ca