Work/life balance doesn’t really exist – but work/life blend is a more appropriate goal anyway

April 12, 2024 |
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The key to a more harmonious professional and personal life is acknowledging – not resisting – the fact that they’re intertwined. And leaders must lead by example.

COVID-19 intensified the spotlight on the concept of work/life balance and now, with the new right-to-disconnect legislation coming into play, finding a harmonious way to accommodate work and personal life has never been more critical for people.

In today’s fast-paced world, the traditional concept of work/life balance has evolved into something more fluid and dynamic – the notion of work/life blend. It’s not about drawing a distinct line between work and personal life but rather finding a harmonious integration of the two. As leaders, it’s essential to recognise and support this shift, fostering an environment where your team can thrive both personally and professionally.

Understanding work/life blend

Work/life blend is about acknowledging that what we do in the modern world doesn’t fit neatly into compartments entitled “work” and “life”. Instead, it’s a continuous flow where work and personal responsibilities intertwine. Rather than fight against the encroachment of one into the other, work/life blend recognises that professional productivity and personal fulfilment are not exclusive to the office or the home. Investing in personal passions, family time and self-care activities, in any environment, can promote the harmonious blend sought.

Embracing flexibility

One of the key pillars of nurturing work/life blend is flexibility. Flexibility doesn’t mean working around the clock. Rather, it’s about empowering your team to structure their work in a way that suits their lifestyles and maximises productivity. Whether it’s offering flexible working hours, remote work options, or accommodating personal commitments, flexibility demonstrates trust in your team’s ability to deliver results while supporting their individual needs.

Fostering open communication

Effective communication is the cornerstone of a healthy work/life blend. Encourage open dialogue within your team, where individuals feel comfortable discussing their workload, priorities and personal commitments. By understanding each team member’s unique circumstances, you can collaboratively find solutions that accommodate both work and personal responsibilities, fostering a supportive and inclusive work culture.

Leading by example

As a leader, your actions speak louder than words. Lead by example by prioritising your own work/life blend and openly discussing how you achieve it with your team. Share your strategies for managing workload, setting boundaries and carving out personal time. By demonstrating that you value work/life harmony, you inspire your team to do the same, creating a culture where achieving the right blend is celebrated rather than frowned upon.

Encouraging self-care

In the pursuit of work/life blend, it’s crucial not to overlook self-care. This goes for leaders as well as their teams. Everyone in the team should be encouraged by their leaders to prioritise their physical and mental wellbeing by promoting breaks, encouraging exercise and supporting healthy endeavours that resonate with people. Mindfulness might work for some, marathon running might work for others. A rested and rejuvenated team is a more productive and engaged team.

Celebrating achievements

Recognise and celebrate achievements, both big and small, within your team. Acknowledge moments of success, whether they’re work-related milestones or personal accomplishments. By celebrating achievements, you reinforce the importance of work/life blend and show appreciation for your team’s dedication and hard work.

Fostering a culture which acknowledges work/life blend is not only beneficial for your team’s wellbeing but also for productivity and morale. By embracing flexibility, fostering open communication, leading by example, encouraging self-care and celebrating achievements, you can create an environment in which your team thrives personally and professionally. New laws like the right to disconnect from work will integrate seamlessly.

Jacqui Barnes is the head of people and growth at Laing+Simmons.

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