In today’s digital age, it is growing more difficult to draw the line between work life and home life. Most professionals have online access to their work when at home, and many even have their work emails routed directly to their phones. In fact, 40 percent of professionals believe it is OK to answer an urgent work email at the dinner table. When technology makes it possible for your boss to expect you to work at any hour—which 57 percent of working professionals believe it has—it can be difficult to maintain a healthy balance between your work life and your home life. Fortunately, recognizing the problem is the first step toward creating a healthier balance.
Being able to work from home is not altogether a bad thing. When the weather is lousy, you no longer need choose between risking life and limb to earn your paycheck or simply going without until the roads are clear. Modern technology has brought us many conveniences. Unfortunately, with those conveniences have come blurred lines between working time and social or family time. But it’s not just answering emails at the dinner table that has become a problem.
In the United States, the work week is slowly starting to creep up from the standard 40 hours of yesteryear. The average workday is now up to 8.15 hours, and about 11 percent of workers are working more than 50 hours per week. This leaves the United States near the bottom of the list when it comes to work–life balance: We rank number 30 worldwide.
There are real consequences to this lack of balance. We see it in the short term in lack of focus at work and missing out on activities at home. In the long run, it can turn into anxiety and depression when left unchecked.
There are a few things you can do to avoid falling into the trap of poor work–life balance. First, take stock of all the things in your life and decide which are most important. Think about ways you can give more time to those things you prioritize while reducing time spent on things that seem trivial. Second, remember that the same technology that is monopolizing your attention can be used to bring your life back into balance. Sixty-nine percent of workers believe employers should offer flexible schedules, and 55 percent believe employers should allow remote working. Long commutes can feel like a complete waste of time; negotiating to work from home, at least a portion of the time, can give you back more time to do other things. When you take that extra 40-60 minutes of commuting time and spend it on something you don’t otherwise have time for, like exercise, it can make all the pieces of your life fall into place.
Negotiating for freedom and flexibility can help you restore balance in your life. Check out this infographic for more stats on work–life balance.