Tricia Driver, UK Recruitment Diversity and Inclusion Lead, Capgemini UK | Human Resources writes of the continual juggling act to having a successful work / life harmony and her aspirations of reaching the perfect balance.
I’ve heard it said that the concept of work-life balance is slightly outmoded nowadays; with the advent of technology and different working practices meaning that the lines between work and home are ever more blurred. Maybe it’s because I am in the happy situation of living the concept of “Do something you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life”, but this blurring is definitely true for me, and certainly a positive. Personally, I see work-life harmony (as we call it at Capgemini) as being less a formal arrangement about working hours, and more a mixture of all of the different facets of my life mixing together; sometimes in a beautiful and seamless balancing act, sometimes more like a slightly loopy juggler trying to keep all the balls in the air.
''The rest of the week is a military operation, planned with precision, and an awful lot of support from other people, including the long-suffering husband''.
In this juggling act, Mondays are in some ways the easiest day of the week, and in some ways very much the hardest. Depending on how you view it, it’s either my day “off”; OR my real job; looking after my two little girls, but also trying to cram in a whole week of laundry, grocery shopping and general “life admin”, as well as doing the school run, and being sufficiently hilarious to entertain my eighteen month old (tough crowd).
The rest of the week is a military operation, planned with precision, and an awful lot of support from other people, including the long-suffering husband (LSH) who shares drop-off and pick up responsibilities, our AMAZING child-minder, who makes looking after six children look easier than I make it look with two, and my marvellous mum who looks after my girls one day a week.
I’m very lucky to have this support structure around me and to work for an organisation which enables the level of flexibility I have... I work from home occasionally, but also from trains, whilst crossing cities on foot, and even sometimes, by a lake with a colleague. The fantastic technology which surrounds most of us is a fantastic enabler and means I can work any time, any place.
But it also means that I can work any time, any place, so for me, a key part of work-life harmony is managing my mental bandwidth so that I can be at my best for all the elements of my life. The LSH often says it must be exhausting to live inside my head, with a million things going on. He’s right – I can only compare it to a web browser with 18,000 tabs open at once. So for me, one of the key elements of my work-life harmony is to make sure that I give myself some head space every day.
I use my “long run” on a Saturday morning (I’m training for a half marathon) to detangle the events of the week, and plan for the challenges of the next week. Sometimes the agenda in my head is purely work, sometimes it’s purely personal, but mostly a mixture of the two, and I always value the quiet and space to think (with the added benefit that it does make the miles tick by a little more quickly!). I’ve started trying to inject this into my day to day life as well. Not running eight miles every day – that would be mad – but just taking some time each day, either a walk through London, instead of getting the tube to the office, or making sure that there is some kind of exercise in the evening after work. Just a little bit of space and balance to remember what’s important.
And really – isn’t that what work life balance is all about? For each of us to find a way, in this ever more digital age, to find that perfect balance between being “on” all the time, and being at our best for all aspects of our lives. At least that’s the aspiration, and until I get it right all the time, I’ll just carry on practicing juggling.