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, for 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 now and then to get more work done of being foolish. Still, there is some sense in McGregor’s reasoning that those who can work efficiently in the time allotted “are hugely successful and enjoy a great work-life balance.”
I believe 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 result in being less productive.
Forbes offers a few tips for achieving a 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 the 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 critical 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 essential for any business, but integration is critical. A productive 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 can foster creative and productive environments.