Ever since the birth of my daughter almost 2 years ago, I am constantly trying to find work life balance. Some days it's to the extent that if I had the money, I would hire a life coach, because I feel like I'm never going to figure it out. Today I spotted this article about how companies prefer employees that have no life outside of work. I am disappointed, but not surprised because this is my life right now. My company has a great reputation for work life balance and being family friendly, but the day to day reality is dependent upon your direct manager. I have had a number of different bosses over the last 5 years, and they have varied greatly in management style. One of the few consistencies among them is that they all talk the talk when it comes to flexibility but do not walk the walk. No one wants to set precedent. I've sought job shares or part-time opportunities at my current employer, but what it boils down to is that if you are at the manager level or above, those opportunities don't really exist. I've made realistic proposals based on solid business cases and have been shot down repeatedly. The sad thing is that I loved my job and was very motivated to do it well. The constant battles over flexibility that I've lost have created what I would think is the least desirable scenario for an employer. I am completely frustrated and unmotivated now. In the past I was willing to log in and complete work tasks outside of business hours. I am never going to do that again. When I leave work, I don't give it another thought until I return to the office in the morning. If I am not respected and the work I produce is not valued, then there is no reason for me to go above and beyond. The job share proposals I've done would save the company money and create better continuity of service while creating jobs in a terrible economy. I'm failing to see the downside. It's a win-win!
This was bound to become an issue. The technology that we have access to was either going to create great opportunities for work life balance or it was going to become a leash that all but those without lives were going to be strangled by. Blackberries, laptops and smart phones should create a workplace that doesn't require a physical office or cube. I know there are a few very successful businesses that have changed their business model so that they now lease or own small offices that allow their employees a place to work or hold meetings on an as needed basis. Unfortunately, most of the corporate world is too much of a dinosaur to be able to shift that way. It's a shame because I think they could save a lot of money. Not to mention that it is a "green" way to do business. Another thing corporate America seems to want to say they do without having to follow through.
I also think this is an example of a few ruining it for the rest of us. I know more people who are in search of work life balance than have no lives outside work. My friends who are married to the job aren't in love with their jobs though. They want more in their personal lives. Which tells me that neither situation is ideal...a common theme in my life is that all things in moderation, nothing to excess is more than just a maxim, it's a highly desirable way of life. The happiest people I know are those who have truly flexible job situations without penalties behind the scenes. I know there is something better out there for me, I just seem to be having trouble finding it on my own. Someday I'll find it.