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Nicole freelances as a comms manager within the creative industries. You can find a selection of Nicole's comms work, here.

Why We Believe in Balancing Work and Life - And How You Can Achieve The Right Balance

We need to talk about work/life balance. Namely, the fact that just 33% of Brits believe they have struck the perfect balance. You all know what I’m talking about: when you eat lunch at your desk or, even more worryingly, don’t eat lunch at all; when staying behind for an hour becomes almost as regular a thing as brushing your teeth; when checking your emails at 10pm is as much a part of your daily routine as scrolling through your Instagram feed. 

It comes as no surprise that British workers believe their jobs take up almost half of their lives and that, in an ideal world, we all would prefer to dedicate 30% of our lives to work; 70% to life. Because, after all, aren’t we working as a means to live, and not the other way around? The same research, conducted by Gympass, found that work pressure and long hours are the most common contributing factors towards a poor work/life balance.

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But, surely there’s another way? After all, work-related stress costs Britain a whopping 10.4 million working days per year. Meaning poor work/life balance doesn’t just affect the employee; it affects everyone. Luckily, many companies are cottoning on to the importance of a healthy work/life balance. Netflix, for example, are adopting policies that allow their employees to come and go as they please, with the end goal of focusing on employees achieving specific benchmarks or goals as opposed to employees being chained to their desks.

One person who aligns with this concept is CRYSTLSD founder and marketing director, Laura Rothwell. “I started CRYSTLSD as a direct response to a long-term lack of my own work/life balance, which resulted in my having pneumonia for four months,” says Rothwell. “From the beginning, I was adamant that whether this business was just me, two, four or 27 other people that the ‘work’ would fit around our lives – and not the other way around.”

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David Whitby, UK Country Manager at Glassdoor, agrees. In an article on UK Business Insider, Whitby said, “Companies are realising that you can get more out of your workforce if you create an environment where people feel it’s okay to take time out and be flexible with the working week. It’s not about leaving the office early, it’s about integrating work and lifestyle. At the end of the day, employers that trust their staff to do their job to the best of their ability and recognise that everyone has commitments and interests outside the office, will create more loyalty.”

So, the big bosses are saying it’s A-OK to prioritise your work/life balance by encouraging flexible working, Actual Time Off and by implementing short breaks throughout the day. But, what happens when you are the boss? Ironically, most people become self-employed in the belief that they will achieve a better work/life balance, but in reality? Quite the opposite. In fact, over a quarter of freelancers said they work even longer hours compared to when they were employed. A study of 1,000 freelance or self-employed workers, found that they’re typically “on duty” for 13 hours a day, looking at their first work email at 8:01am and their last at 8:55pm. Add to the mix that 66% of freelancers struggle to sleep due to stress, and suddenly that dream of achieving the perfect work/life balance is just that – a dream.

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It doesn’t have to be that way, of course. At CRYSTLSD, all team members have the flexibility of working from home (although we do use co-working spaces as well, because face-time is nice) and are lucky enough to have the autonomy to figure out their own work/life balance – something that was incredibly important to Rothwell. “Humans cannot be productive when they are sat at a desk for seven, eight, nine hours solidly a day; they cannot be healthy when work overspill prevents them from having time to cook dinner, or eat lunch, go to the gym, or see their loved ones,” says Rothwell, continuing, “I have tried (and still, continue to try) to construct a business that allows team members to be creative, productive, healthy, rested and relaxed and ensures that client objectives and deadlines are met.”

So, how can you achieve the perfect work/life balance? 

As a business

Employee health and happiness should be at the top of your agenda and promoting a positive work/life balance in the workplace is one of the most important ways of looking after staff wellbeing. 

Some of the key ways of promoting positive work/life balance are as follows:

1.    Offering flexible working to your employees, for example, compressed hours, job sharing, remote working and/or paid time off policies

2.    Allowing team members to take their own approach to the delivery of tasks and projects and focusing on outcome as opposed to micro-management

3.    Promoting activities that are proven to have a positive effect on physical and mental wellbeing, for example, offering gym memberships, cycle to work schemes and/or health and wellbeing activities, such as hypnotherapy, meditation and counselling. At CRYSTLSD, for example, each team member can access a Staff Welfare fund to help out with self-care activities that are right for the individual

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As a person

Don’t be the person who is glued to their phone/laptop/computer 13 hours a day, seven days a week! There are a myriad of ways to promote a healthier work/life balance without compromising on productivity and client happiness. It’s simply about finding the right tactics for you; this can include:

1.    Allowing yourself regular rest-breaks, including an undisturbed lunch break. If this means setting alarms to remind yourself to take some time out, so be it

2.    Time management is key; if you think you’d benefit from time management training, tell your employer. If you can confidently manage your time during work hours, it means you will be less anxious about your workload outside of working hours

3.    Set boundaries early on; make sure your colleagues know you draw a line between your personal and professional life. That way, their expectations are set and you can enjoy cooking dinner, eating lunch, going to the gym or seeing your kids/friends/puppy/bae

Here at CRYSTLSD, we’re huge believers in balancing work and life, but we don’t know it all. We’re always keen to hear how others manage their own balance; let us know what works for you by tweeting us @crystlsdteam!

Originally posted, here. Written for CRYSTLSD.

Nicole MullenComment