AP NEWS
ADVERTISEMENT

Women at Work: A work-life balance? Why not just live?

July 1, 2017 GMT

At this very moment, I am attempting to get my column written on a laptop that has gone completely haywire!

The amazing MacBook Pro that holds six years of my work behaves as if an invisible user is grabbing my pointer and controlling it. Poltergeist-type things are happening such as items and applications open and close, get large and grow small or randomly edit themselves. I can forget about leaving any type of comments on social media, because I would look rather unintelligent or rude based on what this “ghost” is typing.

When devices work properly, they and technology are an amazing invention. There are very few parts of life that remain untouched by technology in one way or another. From medicine to autonomous cars, we’re advancing at breakneck speed, and in many ways, our lives are improved greatly because of it.

ADVERTISEMENT

In the workplace, advances in technology allow us to work in new ways that weren’t possible in the past. Constraints, such as location, have become more of a nonissue, and we are more connected to the office than ever before. However, when it comes to balancing those capabilities with our personal lives, it presents several pros and cons for work-life balance.

We’re always accessible

With an entire suite of communication tools found on a single, pocket-sized device, it’s easier than ever to get in touch with just about anyone these days, no matter where in the world they might be. And that includes your boss or employees. According to a Workplace Trends study, “65 percent of employees say that their managers expect them to be reachable outside of the office.” However, such easy accessibility, when taken advantage of, often comes at the expense of work-life balance.

The key is to set boundaries and expectations to find a happy medium. Easier accessibility isn’t always a bad thing. Smartphones have become a communications hub, and research from Accenture found 77 percent of professionals believe such technology enables them to have more flexibility in their schedules.

It’s easier to work remotely

Technology that helps make us more accessible also has made it easier for many employees to work remotely — an organizational structure that only has increased in popularity in recent years. Working from home, a coffee shop or on the road is commonplace for many companies, and according to the Workplace Trends study, such arrangements are being more openly embraced by employers because of benefits including improved employee satisfaction, greater productivity and increased retention.

ADVERTISEMENT

Of course, the ability to do many jobs from anywhere there’s an internet connection or phone signal also makes it easier for work to intrude upon personal lives. Research from Accenture also found 75 percent of professionals report they work “frequently” or “occasionally” during paid time off, which significantly can affect how one attempts a work-life balance.

So, despite mounting deadlines and work commitments that show little mercy, it’s important to learn how to draw a line between where the office ends and personal life begins.

We’re becoming more efficient

Advances in technology also are making the workplace more efficient. From time-saving apps to digital storage options that help reduce clutter, workplaces are adapting in ways that let employees make better use of their time. Many everyday tasks are being automated, leading to increased efficiency that allows us to work smarter and focus attention on the most important aspects of work while getting rid of redundancies and wasted effort. And with better efficiency comes more time to devote to passion projects, take a vacation or spend time with friends and family.

As technology continues to advance, our work and personal lives become even more entwined. In fact, so entwined, we might as well stop trying to find the balance, and just live.

P.S. If you are reading this and have a suggestion on how to fix my pointer issue, please contact me.

ADVERTISEMENT