This is a guest post from Karol Rose, Work Life Flexibility coach.
Forget trying to find ‘balance’. It’s a futile search. You may find a moment when it seems like everything is in place and all running smoothly. But, hold your breath because any second that could change. Life and work are not stagnant. Constant changes require adjustments and resilience. In fact, it doesn’t even make sense to try to achieve work-life ‘balance.’ That’s why I coined the term ‘work-life effectiveness’. It struck me that the goal is not keeping the status quo, or even just ‘managing’ or ‘integrating’ or finding ‘harmony’ as some have suggested.
I believe that “when work is effective, life benefits, and when life works, work benefits”. That’s what research has shown, what’s sellable to managers, and what resonates with most women. The goal should be finding ways to be most effective in your work and your life. What that means is up to you—given your life and career goals—and it involves not only adapting to inevitable changes, but also finding ways to feel in control.
Often the key to feeling in control is having the flexibility to change the how, where, when and how much you work. It may mean working from home some or all the time, adjusting starting/stopping times, or working less than full time. To be successful, flexibility must be reciprocal– not only benefiting you, but also your employer/manager.
Employers have a responsibility–and an opportunity—to create a culture that fosters employee effectiveness. This is accomplished by implementing an ongoing process that of assessing what works and doesn’t work currently; examining employee and business needs; evaluating current programs, policies and practices; and making necessary changes, including educating managers and employees regarding the importance of addressing individual needs for changes in where, when, how and how much work is done. Find out if your organization has programs and policies to support your work-life needs. However–especially when it comes to flexibility–it’s actually the practices and how your manager implements them that matter most.
You have a related, but different role. You need to know what your employer offers in terms of flex; objectively assess your personal work and life situation; create a proposal as you would any business initiative; be prepared to negotiate; and continue to demonstrate that it’s a win/win for everyone involved.
It’s critical to create your own personal approach to work-life effectiveness and flexible work. No career or life situation is the same. You must find out what flexibility is right for you, and carefully plan for success. That takes effort and time. But it can be done, and you and your employer/manager will both be more effective in the process.
Karol Rose works with professional women dealing with work-life issues who want help determining the appropriate work flexibility, as well as planning, proposing, negotiating, and working flexibly. To learn more about Karol and her services, please visit her website.