Work-life balance is a hot topic, often discussed but rarely mastered. This is especially true in the fast-paced Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) industry. Juggling projects, clients, and deadlines makes finding that balance between work and personal life a real challenge.
Then came the COVID-19 pandemic, which kicked remote work into high gear. Sure, it’s flexible, but it also brings its own set of challenges for keeping a healthy work-life balance. The lines between work and home can get really blurry. And let’s not forget, this isn’t just about personal well-being. A poor work-life balance can lead to increased stress, lower job satisfaction, and even higher turnover rates.
In this post, I’ll get personal. I’ll share my own struggles with work-life balance, back it up with some research, and talk about how I’m trying to reclaim my time and well-being.
The Double-Edged Sword of Working from Home
Working from home offers the convenience of skipping the commute and creating a personalised work environment. However, research shows that it can also lead to longer working hours and increased stress. One study found that remote work can indeed improve work-life balance by eliminating commute times but cautioned that it also has the potential to encroach upon personal time.
The Global Team Dilemma
When your role involves interfacing with global teams, time zones can quickly erode your work-life balance. Meetings can run before and after standard working hours, leaving little time for personal activities. I’ve personally experienced this, and it’s a challenge that many professionals face.
The Importance of Hobbies and Well-being
Hobbies are not just pastimes; they’re essential for mental and emotional well-being. For me, cycling, photography, and cooking, especially BBQ, are not just hobbies but a form of art and relaxation. They offer a break from the routine and provide a sense of accomplishment that work can’t always offer.
Refocusing on Hobbies I’ve recently invested in a new camera lens that’s honestly a bit overkill for my abilities. But that is somewhat the point, as it’s a solid nudge to get me outdoors and reignite my passion for photography.
Cycling for Reflection Cycling has always been a way for me to clear my mind. Lately, I’ve added audiobooks to the mix for fresh perspectives while I pedal. I’ve been off the road for a while so I’m sticking to my indoor trainer to rebuild my strength and ready hit the road.
Joyrides in My Mini There’s something liberating about a drive along the waterfront in my Mini. It’s a simple pleasure that helps me disconnect and enjoy the moment.
Steps to Reclaim Work-Life Balance
Set Boundaries: Designate a workspace and set working hours to help separate work from personal life.
Prioritise Hobbies: Make time for hobbies and interests. For me, that means getting back on my bike, spending time with my camera, and firing up the BBQ.
Seek Flexibility: Negotiate with your employer for flexible working hours, especially if you’re coordinating with global teams.
Mindfulness and Reflection: Take time to reflect on your work habits and their impact on your personal life. Make adjustments as needed.
The Road Ahead
Work-life balance is a continuous journey requiring frequent check-ins to make sure you’re staying on the right track. Both the academic literature and my personal experiences underline the importance of proactive strategies, both at an organisational and individual level, to achieve a better balance.