Work/Life Balance has become extremely important in recent years. Work/Life has been defined as having enough time to do work, and enough time to have a life outside of work.
With more and more people working and needing dual incomes to support their families and mortgages these days, the actual time spent with families and friends is diminishing. Employees are spending longer at work as companies are squeezing everything they can out of their employees meaning they have less time with their families and social networks.
This imbalance is leading people to have high levels of stress and burn-out which can manifest itself in many different ways including headaches, irritability, forgetfulness, heart disease and an increased consumption of alcohol and cigarettes.
The traditional one parent at home looking after children has mostly gone with large numbers of children in preschool centers and after school care. Children are seeing less of their parents and not making the family bonds that are so essential for an effective community as a whole.
Technology was initially expected to help people achieve work life balance with the expectations that day-to-day chores could be automated enabling people to spend more quality time with their families. But this does not appear to be the case.
Technology instead of being an enabler for work/life balance appears to be a disabler. Employees are now armed with mobile phones, notebooks and mobile data cards so they can keep in touch with the office from home. They are equipped with car kits so they can take voice calls when travelling. It is common place to use smart phones so that employees can continue receiving e-mails even when they are not in the office.
Work Life Balance has become more about fitting in what you can for the company when you are not in the office. Work Life Balance has become checking e-mails on your smart phone when you are on the couch at home and answering work calls in the weekend when you are with your family. The expectations of companies these days are their employees are available around the clock and this has set a new standard in business. More worrying is that people just accept this change due to the competitiveness in the job market.
Work Life Balance very much favors the employer as they take advantage of technology to mobilize their employees to ensure they remain in touch with the office outside of work hours. Employees need to take control and define what they want to achieve from their lives and build work around their life otherwise we shall continue on a path which will eventually unbalance the communities we live in.