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The importance of a healthy work/life balance.


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We are all familiar with the saying that ‘we spend more time at work than with our family’. This separation between our personal and professional lives has been deeply ingrained in our collective working conscience. For a long time, this paradigm remained largely unchallenged.

As someone who has worked in recruitment and talent acquisition for the past 8 years, I have observed a significant shift in the perception of the working environment. People now have different expectations when entering the workplace. Candidates are not only concerned about salaries, annual leave entitlements and development opportunities, but they also want to know about flexibility, mental health and well-being provisions, company culture and inclusivity of the working space.

The COVID-19 pandemic acted as a catalyst, accelerating this change in perception. In the face of unprecedented circumstances, companies were compelled to swiftly adapt to remote work, and those that successfully embraced this new way of operating, survived. Working from home, or WFH, became the new standard, whether we liked it or not. I was always amazed at how agile companies could be when they needed to be.

As people gradually returned to work after a period of uncertainty, they realised that their home environment could be just as conducive to productivity as the traditional office setting. The burdensome daily commute was substantially reduced for many individuals, resulting in cost savings and the avoidance of unreliable public transport. In fact, some of us gained an entire extra day back each week by eliminating the daily two-hour commute. This newfound time allowed for a healthier work-life balance. Rather than leaving an hour early each day, employees could now spend more quality time with their loved ones, get adequate rest, or engage in morning walks or exercise routines. Instead of enduring congested roads and cancelled trains, individuals could embrace revitalising morning rituals and commence their day with a positive mindset. For many, this new way of working was truly transformative.

While I acknowledge that not all companies can provide the same level of flexibility and that certain roles necessitate a physical presence, I was disheartened to discover that some businesses completely reversed their stance on flexible working arrangements. It was heartbreaking to hear job seekers express their grievances about companies that initially offered flexibility but later discouraged it. Some bosses even chastised employees who sought to continue working remotely, despite performing just as competently. Managers began accusing remote workers of slacking off and not fulfilling their responsibilities to force them back to the office. Employees were constantly harassed, closely monitored to account for their every move and barraged with controlling messages. Suddenly, this empowering mode of working, which had helped countless businesses survive, became detrimental to a workforce’s efficiency.

In my view, remote working is not merely a ‘perk’ or fringe benefit; it is an enabler. It represents a truly transformative way of working that fosters collaboration, independence and trust. It opens doors for increased global mobility and diversity within the workplace. Gone are the days when the rigid ‘9 to 5’ mentality was the only acceptable norm. No longer should managers berate their staff and subject them to excessive micromanagement, creating toxic work environments. When hiring someone for a job, trust should be implicit, regardless of their physical location.

 

While flexible working arrangements are not applicable in all circumstances, it is imperative that mental health and well-being benefits in the workplace are prioritised. Employers must adapt and embrace these changes in order to cultivate positive and productive work forces. By creating a work culture that promotes a healthy work-life balance, employers can benefit not only their employees, but also their colleagues, families, and society at large.

To anyone currently seeking a new role, I encourage you to fearlessly inquire about what a company’s mental health and well-being provision looks like. If a company mentions flexibility and remote working, seek clarity on the metrics used to gauge success – seek transparency. By openly discussing these topics, we can foster a more supportive and understanding working environment that prioritises the holistic well-being of our employees. Ultimately, I believe that by providing choice, we will help to create a more diverse and inclusive workforce. For those of us that ‘spend more time at work than with our family’ – let’s promise ourselves to only work for companies who care about us as people, and not just as payroll numbers. 

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We do not provide professional help to individuals in urgent crisis. If you are experiencing a mental health emergency, please call 999 immediately. For support with suicidal thoughts, consider contacting the Samaritans UK, a trusted organisation specialising in confidential assistance during emotional distress. Your safety is paramount and there are professionals available to provide the urgent help required in such critical situations.
We do not provide professional help to individuals in urgent crisis. If you are experiencing a mental health emergency, please call 999 immediately. For support with suicidal thoughts, consider contacting the Samaritans UK, a trusted organisation specialising in confidential assistance during emotional distress. Your safety is paramount and there are professionals available to provide the urgent help required in such critical situations.