Modern FamilyAchieving work-life balance

By Hayden Greaves

How happy are you with life? A bit too deep a question this early in the article? Ok, let’s try this: are you and your colleagues happy at work? Because happiness at work translates to overall happiness of course – stress levels from work impact upon your demeanour at home, and unhappiness tends to rub off on the people around you, especially your family. It is well established that happier workers translate to more productive workers, and workplaces are constantly striving to find ways of doing more with less to increase efficiencies. It stands to reason that happier staff results in a win-win for employees and employers.

Happiness is a shared responsibility where employers need to provide the environment and enablers for their staff, and conversely the employee needs to avail themselves of the opportunities and technology that are on offer, without abusing the trust and good faith that is required.

People talk about a good work-life balance being key to happiness, although I find the term a little funny as it suggests you are ‘dead’ when at work and only really living outside of it. A lot of workplaces are now talking about bringing your ‘whole self’ to work, as they celebrate all of the uniqueness of who you are that makes you valuable to the organisation. Staff are being encouraged to be open about the extra-curricular activities and family demands on their time, and are given allowance to take the time they need to look after themselves and their life outside of work. All that is asked from the staff member is that they are reasonable, that it doesn’t adversely affect a client or a deadline, and that it is openly communicated with all involved parties. This is known as an outcome-focussed culture.

Encouraging this flexibility requires certain tools to be provided to employees in order for outcomes to be achieved in a timeframe that both suits the staff and is acceptable to the organisation. Many of these tools are IT related in today’s work environment, and one of the newly-coined terms for this is the ‘Digital Workspace’.

Mobility is encouraged through the use of laptops, tablets, smartphones; staff are choosing their own devices that they are comfortable with using, and workplaces need to be able to support a device ubiquitous environment. This concept of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is now being extended to BYOA and BYOI (Apps and Identity respectively). Staff are installing productivity apps on their devices to help them do their work how they want to do their work. The concept of BYOI is that people have their own online profiles and are using those identities to log in to work-related tools (such as blogs, social media, websites, applications, etc.).

Working anywhere, from any device, any time, enables people to break the mould on the typical 9-5:30 workday so they can go to soccer practice, pick the kids up from day-care, or deal with a sick member of the family without impacting on their work commitments. A Digital Workspace that allows for this shows that the employer understands and respects their staff, and in turn both attracts and retains great employees. There is a need for collaboration tools that enable people to work on the same document at the same time (without horrible version control issues from emailed document attachments and merging/formatting/pulling hair out). Various communication tools should be provided that are fit for purpose – email isn’t instant enough for a quick question, and instant messaging isn’t persistent and referenceable nor can either give the benefits of body language and tone to reinforce a message, so giving options will allow for an appropriate medium to be selected. With the right communication and collaboration tools, workers can still be part of the team regardless of the time of day/week that they are able to work, and wherever they are able to work from.

At Linktech, we don’t just implement technology, we look for enablers specific to the ways your team work. These enablers lead to positive impacts such as greater gender equality through flexibility for modern families, and a workplace that people enjoy being a part of.

If you would like to discuss ways of enhancing your Digital Workspace to untether from the desk, attain greater flexibility in your work and life, and have a happier workplace, we’d love to have a conversation about the available tools that will help you achieve these goals.

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