It may seem that the only way to get ahead in the corporate world is to work ahead, staying late at the office and sacrificing valuable personal and family time to make a good impression. However, if this is the mindset that your company instills in you, then they’re probably not offering a very supportive environment for their employees.
I came across a somewhat controversial post on LinkedIn recently that has been getting a lot of attention- 1.5 million views, to be exact. Andrew McGregor, Associate Director at Design & Build Recruitment, recently shared a post explaining, in seven reasons, why you should always leave work on time. The post goes so far as to say that someone who stays late is not a hardworking person and is, in fact, a fool and a loser. Andrew released an article as a follow-up to this statement, explaining why he agrees with it. I would not go so far as to accuse a person who stays late every now and then to get more work done of being foolish, but there is some sense in McGregor’s reasoning that those who are able to work efficiently in the time allotted “are hugely successful and enjoy a great work life balance.”
My belief is that there needs to be a balance. Whatever that means for you- whether that’s always arriving at and leaving the office on the dot, or staying late sometimes to have some peace of mind and avoid bringing your work home with you, then you should do whatever it takes to achieve a balance. If not, you are likely to find yourself stressed and unhappy, which could actually result in being less productive.
Forbes offers a few tips for achieving work life balance and emphasizes that prioritizing is the first step. “Focus on the things that are important to you, and don’t do the extraneous stuff,” advises Jody Greenstone Miller, author and CEO of Business Talent Group. “It’s a discipline that doesn’t come too naturally to most of us.”
This means not taking on too much at once and eliminating distractions like technology, the biggest culprit. Your time away from work is supposed to be your chance to decompress and enjoy the company of family and friends, so try setting up some tech-free times of day and be sure to stick to them. The dinner table, for one, should be a time for conversation with family, so put the cellphone away and give this important time your full attention. Loretta Penn, former president of Spherion Staffing Services, goes so far as to say, “You don’t have to respond to every e-mail or voicemail as soon as it comes in. Just because someone else deems something a priority doesn’t mean you should too.”
So how does one ultimately learn how to prioritize and maintain the ideal work life balance? According to Entrepreneur, innovation and productivity are important for any business, but integration is key. An effective work environment must be built upon trust and space, and the quality of the work you put out should be regarded above the time put in. It’s no surprise that some of the most successful companies, including Netflix, Uniqlo, and Zappos embrace flexible work schedules. Through offering their employees open communication and constant empowerment, they are able to foster creative and productive environments.
Ultimately, a company invested in maintaining work life balance can never be a bad thing; it demonstrates to employees that they are valued, supported, and encouraged to put forth their best work. As British ad executive David Abbott says, “Hire good people and let them get on with it.” So, remember to always keep work life balance in mind and if you feel you are working in an environment that is not conducive to a balanced lifestyle, then it may be time to bring this up with your boss or start seeking new opportunities.