Work-life balance can be defined as the state of equilibrium between the individual’s professional and personal life. Even though this term was coined in the late 19th century, it has been in practice for a long time. K.W Kellogg even before world war-II broke their three days- eight hour shifts into four days- six hour shifts and saw a major improvement in employee efficiency and morale. The term work-life balance can have different meanings for different communities of the society. If we see from an employee’s point of view, it can be managing work demands and family/personal responsibilities whereas if we see from an employer’s/ organization’s perspective, it can be creating a supportive culture by giving enough control, autonomy and flexibility along with offering such policies which will enable an employee to maintain such balance.
During this pandemic, everyone irrespective of working or not is experiencing extreme anxiety and stress making it quite difficult to establish the balance. The individuals are more susceptible to burnouts due to uncertainty and fear of losing a loved one. Many people who are away from their families and managing it all by themselves should know that staying put during this time is also an achievement in itself and shouldn’t stress about bringing in the balance.
The leaders and the organization as a whole play a very important role here. The leaders should be compassionate, assertive and empathetic. They can show compassion during such times, as the employees may feel restless and insecure about their jobs. It is the responsibility of the leader to provide comfort and support to the employees and make them feel confident and secure. Along with compassion, assertiveness is also very important. Due to the global chaos, there is a possibility that employees might face some role and task ambiguity. The leaders during such times should authoritatively assign and define everyone’s tasks to avoid confusion and wastage of resources. The way the leader will delegate the work will make all the difference. Last but not the least there will be some employees who are living away from their families and might have some apprehensions and concerns for the same. In such times, the leader should be empathetic and make an extra effort by speaking to the employees at an interpersonal level to give them the comfort they need.
The organizations during this pandemic should also ensure flexibility in working hours. Since there is no house help available, everyone is doing all the household work from cooking, cleaning to washing clothes while simultaneously working as well. Rather than time bounding them, give them the autonomy to delegate and regulate their work schedule. Giving the employees this type of control will show them your trust and will further motivate them, increase their loyalty and add meaningfulness to the work.
The employees can maintain productivity and efficiency by creating a space that is comfortable and motivating.They should prepare a schedule and time their breaks. They can set alarms for this; it will help them balance the workload at home and work front so that they don’t feel overwhelmed by the end of the day. Doing so will also ensure that their family members are not taking them for granted and knowing when they can and cannot help. Since everyone is in this together, being in touch with the colleagues and checking up on one another can be helpful. It will give you and your fellow mates the strength, confidence and the feeling that they are not alone.
Along with aforementioned things the individuals should also ensure that their work space is physically comfortable to avoid fatigue and injury. They should take intervalled breaks where they can do some stretching for good blood circulation and avoid back and neck injuries. They can move or walk around the house while attending phone calls or tasks which don’t require one to be at a desk. Since we are working from home, interaction with colleagues has also become virtual now. Positioning your laptops and desktops at the correct distance and keeping the brightness level at a suitable level will avoid excessive eye strain which can cause fatigue, headache and weaken the eye muscle.
Even in this pandemic where the world has come to a standstill, we are working hard enough to strike an effective work-life balance and keep our families safe. Thus, it is important for the employees and employers to know that it is okay if we make mistakes and give each other some credit. Allowing yourself to feel so will release the added stress and anxiety and take one step at time.