Posted: 12th January 2022
Last year, the Portuguese government introduced a new law making it illegal for companies to contact staff outside their contracted working hours. Businesses that break the law could be fined.
The new measure was part of a range of labour laws designed to regulate home-working and re-conceptualise work-life balance in a post-COVID world.
It’s not just Portugal, of course. The pandemic put the entire world on pause and opened a space for people to reflect and re-assess how we want our lives to look.
Our work-life balance has been heavily skewed in the favour of work for so long that deeply unhealthy ideas have been embedded into our culture.
Stress and overwhelm dominate our society. And thoughts about work creep into our fatigued minds during our precious little free time.
At Blacktip, we want our people to have rewarding careers and enough free time and mental health to enjoy a fulfilling life.
Let’s take a fresh look at what a work-life means in the era of remote working.
Three elements of a good work-life balance
According to the Mental Health Foundation, three things make up a healthy work-life balance:
- Meeting your deadlines at work while still having time for friends and hobbies
- Having enough time to sleep properly and eat well
- Not worrying about work when you’re at home
Sounds simple enough. But, in our world of hectic schedules and the endless temptation to have one final glance at your emails before bed, it’s easier said than done.
When you’re surrounded by people who are just as tired, rushed and consumed by the office as you are, you soon slip into thinking it’s the norm. Before you know it, your entire organisation can be corrupted with bad habits.
Signs your work-life balance is out of whack
Here are some indicators that you might have a poor work-life balance:
- You’re always tired — Too much stress lowers the immune system making you more prone to fatigue and sickness.
- You work infinite overtime — We all have to pull a long day every now and then, but if you’re stuck in never-ending overtime you’re probably out of balance.
- You bring your work home with you — Remote working has made this even more common now that people’s work is already at home with them.
- Your relationships are suffering — Does your partner complain about how much you work? Do you have a sneaking suspicion they’re right?
- You’ve got a temper — Stress makes us snappy. If you’re losing your patience more than usual, it could be a sign that things need to change.
- Your home is a mess — Is your house full of clothes waiting to be washed, dirty dishes and a mound of general clutter?
- Your mind is always at work — Sure, you might have left the office at 5pm, but if you’re thinking about work until 10pm… that’s not free time.
- You don’t take you holiday — When did you last take a day off? If you can’t remember, that’s too long ago!
The vital need for rest
The science of sleep is fascinating and, if you’re underslept, terrifying. The vital importance of rest is best illustrated when we change the clocks twice a year.
Every year on the Monday after we turn the clocks forward in spring, US hospitals report a 24% spike in heart-attack visits around the US. There are also more car accidents, more injuries at work and lower SAT scores.
Sleep effects almost everything’ our growth and stress hormones, our immune system, appetite, breathing and, of course, our quality of life.
Making sure our people are well-rested is essential to supporting work-life balance. And it’s worth pointing out that the two are inseparable and feed into one another. People work better if they have a good night’s sleep.
One of the most insidious ideas in our culture is that more free time would result in less productivity. But that’s a false assumption. The German economy is successful despite six weeks of annual leave being commonplace.
The culture has to change
The “hustle culture” promotes the idea that if you’re not grinding away 24/7-365 you’re not worthy of success. This is mentality is dangerous and borderline insane.
Businesses need to create cultures that encourage people to take their holidays, get some rest and speak up if the workload is too much.
Many people will feel like their chances of promotion might be affected if they take their annual leave. They might worry that leaving work on time will come back to haunt them at a performance review. We must make it abundantly clear that this isn’t the case.
While we may not need to go as far as the Portuguese government, business everywhere must make a concerted effort to foster a healthy work-life balance for their people.
Want to work for a company that helps you have a healthy work-life balance?
Blacktip Consultancy are always on the look out for talented people who want to change the way infrastructure is delivered. So, if you want to work for a company with a culture that respects you, supports your mental and physical wellbeing and helps you grow, get in touch!