The Bloor Perspective on work-life balance

Robin Bloor examines the implications of stress in the workplace and offers some alternatives

While some people may thrive on stress, most of us don't. Yet with the need to do more with less facing many companies these days the only way many cope is by piling the stress onto the workforce. The IT industry is perhaps most guilty of this approach as it is all too easy to get into a conversation with peers based on the war stories of the number of hours worked and the number of hours sleep lost. While this may appeal to one's sense of bravado, the reality is that it's not clever and it's not healthy. Last week was National Work-Life Balance Week. You didn't know? You were too busy to notice. Shame. It's very important stuff that some companies have recognised as being critical to human resource management. The Work Life Balance is the name given to the campaign. The whole idea is to consider different working practices that can be deployed in an organisation so business benefit can be derived from staff being happier, easier to recruit and less likely to leave. Other benefits include reduced levels of sickness through less stress, increased loyalty and, most importantly, productivity. One of the most popular ways to gain some work-life balance is through home working - the technology is there, all it takes is for the company to give the green light and most of us would be sitting in our spare bedrooms tomorrow. Another is flexible working hours. This sort of thing doesn't have to be the preserve of call centre staff on a shift pattern - if it is realistic and managed, it can work for other areas of the organisation too. Another is that of job sharing - though less hours means less money. Of course, the biggest barrier to this happening is your employer but if enough people try to make a difference, things will change eventually. There are enough surveys coming out declaring the benefits of a work-life balance that eventually we may see the destruction of the traditional work place and a better life for all of us.

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