Trying to find a balance between work and private life has been a struggle since man learned to walk. Digital devices don’t make it easier — now you can take your work with you live where ever you go.
That poses problems for organizations that realize most staff need down time to face the pressures of work.
Google is in the second year of what it hopes will be a 100-year study of understanding work.
As Laszlo Bock, senior vice-president of People Operations at Google explains in an article for the Harvard Business Review, it is following 4,000 staffers who complete a survey twice a year.
The short-term goals are to learn “how to improve wellbeing, how to cultivate better leaders, how to keep Googlers engaged for longer periods of time, how happiness impacts work and how work impacts happiness,” he writes.
Interestingly, he writes that finding a perfect work-life balance “is a red herring. For most people work and life are practically inseparable. Technology makes us accessible at all hours (sorry about that!), and friendships and personal connections have always been a part of work.”
That may be if you think about a perfect balance literally — that is, every day a person must have X hour where he doesn’t do or think about work out of the office.
It’s been assumed for decades that senior management work 18-hour days and as you go down the corporate ladder staff work fewer hours.
On the other hand, Bock admits that early results show a large percentage of Google’s employees wish they could separate from work but can’t is “troubling.”
With its large staff and financial resources Google can engage in a scientific study, but Bock says smaller organizations can, too, by asking staff what their pressing people issues are about the company or their personal lives — for example, retention, innovation, efficiency or other things. Try a solution with a group and see if it works.
It’s better than just hoping things get better.