I recently chipped a tooth on a Thursday at 5 pm. I was panicked to learn that my Dentist office was closed on Fridays and did not have an afterhours emergency number listed for just such an emergency. My call rolled to voicemail and I left a rather frustrated message for my Dentist.
To my surprise, he called me the next morning and met me at his office so he could look at my tooth and make a temporary repair to get me through the weekend, until we could schedule a time for a more permanent repair. While there, I asked him about his office hours.
He told me that during the pandemic, to keep everyone working when people were afraid to come to the office for dental work, he began closing his office on Fridays and cut back work hours Monday through Thursday by one hour each day. When the pandemic abated, no one wanted to go back to the old office hours. Why? Because they valued having Friday off and an extra hour each day to get errands and other household chores done, so they could relax and enjoy the weekend.
That begs the question, has the pendulum swung too far for some companies focused on increasing productivity at the expense of employee work-life balance? Employee burnout and disengagement have never been higher. Mental health challenges continue to rise and not surprisingly, more employees are taking mental health days.
According to syndicated columnist and best-selling business author, Chuck Martin, less than 15 percent of more than 2,000 senior executives and managers thought that their lives were in balance. When asked why, many pointed to technology which has made it easier to stay connected to work.
What does all of this mean to you? In effect, you are now on call 24/7 including weekends, holidays, and vacations.
If that isn’t enough, in an article titled, Americans of All Stripes Are Sicker than They Need to Be, Paul Krugman indicated that full-time American workers work, on average, about 46 weeks per year compared with 41 weeks for full-time British, French and German workers.
If moving abroad to work in Britain, France or Germany is not an option for you and you’d like to stay at your current company, then read on for some tips on how to stop this work-life madness.
1. Establish and communicate boundaries for where, when, and how you will work. Put it in writing, share it with your boss and staff, and more importantly, adhere to it. Make sure it is something you feel comfortable with. For example, one executive I know works from 7:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. She checks email remotely once during the evening after-hours when her kids are in bed. Saturday is her family day, and she doesn’t do any work. She checks emails again on Sunday evening and takes time to plan and prepare for her work week while watching TV. The key: figure out what will work for you!
2. Control technology rather than let it control you. Cell phones, laptops, tablets, and remote access are tools to help you be successful, not control you. Most executives that I speak to reluctantly admit that no one has mandated that they be linked to the office 24 hours a day. Stop being a super-hero and limit your use/ abuse of technology. Try turning off your cell phone after leaving work or at least when you get home. In addition, stop text messaging and checking emails during meetings – not only is it rude, but if you can’t be fully present, then perhaps you don’t belong in the meeting after all.
3. Use technology to help you execute your business goals. Block time for projects, planning, and strategic activities or your day will be filled with the urgent and not the important. Block time on your calendar for coffee, lunch and other types of networking meetings (virtual or in-person) as it is important to “see and be seen.” Schedule specific times (preferably only two times per day) when you will review/ respond to email so that you aren’t constantly interrupting your work flow every time a new email arrives. Use the task list and reminder features in your email or database management tool to schedule tasks to be completed on specific days. If you find that you are frequently interrupted during time you scheduled to work on projects, planning, and strategic activities, forward your phone to voicemail or even better, book a conference room or go some other place where you can work without interruption.
In a commencement address delivered to Oklahoma State University Graduates, President George W. Bush once gave this advice, “Harness the promise of technology without becoming slaves to technology.” Now that’s good advice.
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Founder, Women at the Top® (WATT®) Network
- Posted by Regina
- On March 30, 2023
- 0 Comments