THE ELUSIVE WORK-LIFE BALANCE
In an increasingly mobile and fast moving world, as individuals rapidly embrace the advances of technology within their daily lives, work-life balance has become a highly subjective concept. Certainly the importance of work-life balance is ever prevalent. The ability to prioritise one’s health and wellbeing and maintain a balanced lifestyle, whilst sustaining a living through work has become a necessity.
Does that mean one way of achieving work-life balance is better than another?
No. Each individual will have a different understanding of what entails a balanced lifestyle through a difference in priorities and goals.
One theory suggested to lean towards a healthier work-life balance is a shift towards flexible work arrangements. Working from home and effectively utilising technology attempts to encourage individuals to work smarter rather than longer. In fact, a report from recruitment firm Hays revealed 86 per cent of employees consider flexible working options an important or very important factor for their engagement and more than half of Australians would drop their salary by as much as 20 per cent to be able to work from home.
Christina Chun, the CEO and founder of 1Scope, entrepreneur and social impact activist shared her thoughts on the difficulties of leading a balanced life style as an entrepreneur.
Despite the importance of work-life balance, the potential to bring about social change often results in long hours at work. For Christina, “making an impact on students’ wellbeing and guiding the success of 1Scope takes greater priority” as she accepts that her “‘me’ time may take a backseat”.
“My snapchat is ‘thebalancedceo’ and it’s highly ironic for those who know me. I know what’s important to me and to those around me – my family, friends, my dog – so I try my best to make these things a priority,” she said. However, the effects of being an entrepreneur are quite prevalent as she admitted, “Having an effective work life balance has never really been on the forefront of my mind. And the reason for this could be that the goal that I’m trying to achieve – equal access to quality opportunities for students across Australia – is a big enough passion of mine to devote the many minutes to hours I do every day.”
Similarly, the advancement of technology can be a severe benefit or hindrance to our work-life balance and often depends on an individual and their use of technology. Technology truly is a double edged sword where employees may struggle to find the balance between their work and personal lives. In fact, 70 per cent of respondents to a recent Accenture survey said technology caused work to creep into their personal lives.
“Yes, there is procrastination but it also has to be considered in light of the incredible advances that we’re seeing in machine learning and other fields of science and education. I’m generally optimistic that on balance, we are better off. There was a time when people were worried about the internet corrupting students, but now it’s part of the infrastructure. Having said that, I do agree that we have to educate students at a young age about the downsides of technology, and also to develop a sense of self and a focus on realising their goals,” said Christina.
For parents, effective work-life balance may mean flexible work arrangements and having the time to take their kids to soccer practice and dance lessons. For entrepreneurs like Christina, much of their daily activities are influenced by their passions and the enjoyment they reap from working allows them to lead a healthy lifestyle. Each individual has a different understanding of a balanced lifestyle and different priorities and goals to tend to.
Ultimately, with the right mindset and effective utilisation of technology, worklife balance can still exist within the 21st century.