Work-life balance - is it a fad? Far from being a luxury, the notion of achieving an optimal work-life balance has become a key goal for working professionals worldwide, men and women.
A recent Bayt.com survey about employee motivation in the Middle East showed 91 per cent of professionals in the region consider work-life balance a vital factor that directly affects their motivation in the workplace.
Remarkably, the same study showed only 37 per cent of Middle East professionals stated their employers provide them with "good" to "complete" support in order for them to achieve a satisfactory work-life balance.
Thus they continue to call for more flexible treatment at the workplace that can include more flexible working hours, job-sharing arrangements, occasional distance working arrangements, sabbatical leave allowances and even child-care units and arrangements for working mothers.
Lack of balance between professional and personal life can often cause elevated levels of stress, apathy, decreased productivity and sometimes burnout. How can you then, as a working professional, make the process of achieving work-life balance more achievable and realistic? Below are some tips from the career experts at the Middle Eastjobs website Bayt.com:
1 Build downtime into your schedule: put your best efforts into your job during working hours so you can leave work at work and make your way out knowing you still have enough time and energy to invest in your daily routine responsibilities at home and cater to your family and personal needs. Learn to work "smart" as opposed to "long" and focus on making your precious hours at work that much more condensed and productive so you can leave the office on time with a proud record of accomplishments on as many days as possible.
2 Drop activities that sap your time or energy: take stock of activities that are not really enhancing your career or personal life and minimise the time you spend on them. Do not let feelings of guilt or bogus responsibility haunt you; focus primarily on your "own" job responsibilities and your "own" personal and family activities that make you happy rather than trying to pick up the slack for all around you or routinely expending precious energy on low-priority items.
3 Negotiate your way to telecommuting: this is now widely popular across Middle Eastern workplaces. In fact 47 per cent of professionals surveyed by Bayt.com in a poll survey stated that working from home is an option that is allowed in their organisations for some roles. Telecommuting has proved to be useful and conducive to productivity and profitability all around the world. Can your job be done from home at least partially? Does it necessitate your presence in the office at all times? Is job sharing an option in your job? Check your options. Any degree of job flexibility can undoubtedly be a key factor in achieving a more optimal work-life balance.
4 Maintain a healthy relationship with your boss: 72 per cent of Middle East professionals confirmed in a Bayt.com poll that a healthy manager-employee relationship is crucial at the workplace. That said, bear in mind that if anyone can make your life easier (or much harder) at work, it most certainly is your line manager. Seek to be expert in all "reasonable" job responsibilities you are expected to undertake during working hours and do not feel bound to freeze all family communication channels while at work or to take on a heavier work burden than is really possible given your personal circumstances. Discuss the matter frankly with your boss; as long as you are doing your job to the fullest, a certain amount of flexibility with personal matters should not really be an issue.
5 Keep fit: a healthy body is a healthy brain. Eat well, sleep well and grab every opportunity you get to exercise. Sleep deprivation not only results in you being overly and easily exhausted, it also affects your personal and professional productivity levels. Maintain a healthy lifestyle that combines a fair chunk of fitness-boosting foods, at least eight hours of sound sleep and at least 30 minutes to an hour of physical activity on a daily basis.
Lama Ataya is the chief marketing officer at Bayt.com, one of the leading jobs websites in the Mena region