So this week is National Work Life Week. It's such a great reminder for us all to stop and take stock. Of course, as I write this I am sitting on a plane to NYC on a Sunday afternoon for a week of hard graft delivering training to clients, so don't take my word for how to get this right! Indeed at a recent team event, it became clear that I am what is known as an "integrator" rather than a "segmenter". In other words, I mix up the various strands of my life rather than put them into separate boxes. That is certainly true - my usual day will involve juggling client delivery, team related issues, children's timetables, dog walker schedules, poorly parents and so the list goes on (and not necessarily in that order). It's no wonder we forget to service the car or book the dentist check up let alone have time for that hot stones massage or time to meditate!
For me though, work life balance is not about trying to change everything about what I do and how I do it. Leopards and spots and all that... but it is about noticing what I'm doing, how I'm doing it and possibly even analysing why I'm doing it. Taking the time to understand that the sense of achievement I will get when I finish this blog with the corresponding dopamine rush is critical. But of course what is also critical is that when I finish this blog, I put my ear plugs in, eye shades on and relax ready for the week ahead.
National Work Life Week is designed to showcase what we employers do to help our people. And for those of us who lack personal discipline to turn our phone off, we must surely look to our employers to make it a little easier for us. Here are five things things we do at byrne·dean:
1. We close the office for every member of staff for two weeks in the Summer and the days between Christmas and New Year (as additional holiday) - see our recent Summer shutdown posts, Living our Values and please do listen to the team describing what a benefit it was. We remove that email pressure and the guilt of knowing someone else is doing your work.
2. One of our core Values is Work in its proper place. We attach our Values to every written proposal we send our clients. We love our work and when we are working the team is committed wholly to that work. But we remind our clients that we treasure our home lives.
2. We have no fixed hours of work - we trust our team to manage their time and to deliver the work to the professional standard our clients require (and remember many of us are lawyers - but there are no timesheets!).
4. Whilst we have an office base to allow us to meet and collaborate, the majority of the team are truly agile. We have autonomy as to where and when we work.
5. We encourage everyone to think carefully about out of hours emails - I regularly see emails with a title "Not urgent, don't read until tomorrow". Some of the team are night owls, some are not. People need to know that there is no compulsion to reply to an email at 9pm.
We don't pretend to get it right all the time but we're committed to making it easier for everyone who works at byrne·dean and to helping our clients create kinder, fairer, more productive workplaces!