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Human Resources

Flex, with a side of balance

Flex, with a side of balance

The COVID-19 pandemic forever changed work as we know it, and inevitably, how we balance our work and home lives. After experiencing remote, hybrid, and alternate work arrangements, employees now consider flexibility a top priority. As a result, 70% of organizations have implemented new flexible working plans, with 92% saying those plans include part-time remote working. For many employees, a hybrid week of partially on-site and at-home work is now the norm. This means that remote and alternate work arrangements will continue to define the future of where, when, and how we work. So what does this mean for you?

Be careful what you wish for

The idea of flexibility sounds appealing, but brings added challenges. Working from home means you have to, well, work from home … which means working where you live. Aside from the obvious distractions (looking at you, Netflix), job flexibility can add stress and create new challenges in drawing lines between your work life and your home life.

It also means that it’s easier than ever to fall into the trap of working outside your normal hours. Without a commute and change of scenery to bookend your day, working from home may mean working more. Having flexibility means that it’s up to you to draw your own boundaries and define your own “work/life balance.”

Creating your balancing act

Finding your work/life balance formula is unique to you. It might mean:

  • Committing to working specific hours, even if you aren’t changing your physical location at the end of the workday.
  • Prioritizing your personal commitments — family, friendships, hobbies, fitness — in the same way you would prioritize job tasks.
  • Setting clear boundaries about when you are available to work — and vice versa for family and friends.
  • Changing how or when you work, if you can’t change where you work. Many jobs can’t be done from home, but your employer may offer alternate arrangements, such as flexible hours or job-sharing.

Restoring balance to your life

How do you know when your work/life balance needs adjusting? Here are some signs:

  • You’re having trouble meeting important obligations or you feel like you can’t keep up.
  • You feel out-of-sorts, overwhelmed, or pulled in many different directions.
  • You’re experiencing difficulties in your relationships.
  • You feel negative, cynical, irritable, or resentful.
  • You’re emotionally, physically, and/or mentally exhausted.

If these sound like you, it’s time to do some rebalancing in your life. Step back and evaluate where you can make changes that will have a positive impact on your well-being. This could mean adjusting your work schedule, asking family members or friends to help you out more, or reprioritizing your to-do list to ensure self-care comes toward the top.

Also, take advantage of resources available to help you improve your work/life balance. Your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provides confidential support for virtually any personal or family issue, and it can also help with everyday needs such as connecting you to child or elder care resources, even dog-walking services.

Sources:
Mercer Inside Employees’ Minds Study, 2023–2024
Mercer Flexible Working Policies and Practices Survey, November 2022
“12 Steps to Finding Your Ideal Work-Life Balance,” Healthline (healthline.com), April 2022