Work and Life: All in the Balance

People are border-crossers who make daily transitions between two worlds –the world of work and the world of private life.

Work and life: all in the balance

  • Has the biggest experiment on remote working, forced by the Covid-19 pandemic, helped to rediscover our work-life balance or has it disrupted it?
  • Does technology enable work-life balance or make work all-pervasive?
  • Will flexible working become the new normal?
Diagram

Crossing the borders

People are border-crossers who make daily transitions between two worlds –the world of work and the world of private life.

Borders:
Physical
Temporal
Psychological

People shape these worlds, mould the borders between them and determine the border-crosser’s relationship to that world and its members. Though people shape their environment they are, in turn, shaped by them (Work/Private Life Border Theory, Clark,2000)

Technology: empowering or enslaving?

Advantages

  • Work remotely
  • Work anywhereWork on the go
  • Work at own pace

Disadvantages

  • Temporal, physical and psychological barriers are completely blurred
  • Work is always with us

Should we have the right to disconnect?

France introduced legislation in 2016 dubbed the “right to disconnect“ which requires companies with more than 50 workers to draw up a charter of good conduct, setting out the hours when staff are not supposed to send or answer emails.

In 2014, the German vehicle-maker Daimler set up an optional service for workers going on holiday; instead of sending an out-of-office reply, they could opt to have all new emails automatically deleted while they were away.

(Source: French workers get ‘right to disconnect’ from emails out of hours, BBC 31 December 2016)

Work and life: all in the balance
Work and life: all in the balance

More flexible working, better work-life balance?

  • More home-working: greater autonomy, productivity less sickness absences
  • Less commuting: the UK Office for National Statistics has found that: “commuters have lower life satisfaction…lower level of happiness and higher anxiety on average than non-commuters”
  • Reduced working hours to fit different needs, life cycles and demographic
  • Four days working week back on the agenda?
  • Socially sustainable work: consider the impact of the organization of work for the individual, for communities for the wider society

Professor Simonetta Manfredi.

Oxford Brookes Business School

Oxford Brookes Business School is a place of inspiration and transformation.

Giles Orr

Head of CPD, Training and Consultancy

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