One of the constants is that life doesn’t stop and wait for when it’s convenient to happen. Whether we are part of the C-suite, middle management, or individual contributors, we are arguably all equally affected by the occasional sickness, accident, or caring for family members who are unable to care for themselves. These circumstances can hit us at all levels - we don’t have as much energy as we’d like, we may become emotionally drained, or our budget gets impacted.
Why am I bringing this up now? The situation I described above has been ongoing for me personally the past few months. While I will always be one to throw themselves into their work in spite of it all, admittedly there are times when it gets to me. My inbox is just as full (as is my calendar). Task due dates are upcoming and work must be checked. The team is counting on me to deliver on my part of our projects. As an HR/People & Culture professional, I have to be honest about how the “life” part of work-life balance possibly affects my performance, but also my mental health.
As I reflect upon my conversations with the experts on psychological safety and burnout, the more I’m convinced of the role people support continues to play in the workplace of the future. I’m eternally grateful to have coworkers with whom I can be honest about what initiatives are meeting expectations, as well as when I spend the entire morning doing laundry because my dog gets sick (source: personal experience). Relationships don’t happen overnight, in the same way company culture isn’t automatically positive. It takes intention, practice, and ensuring everyone is on the same page. This is the case, whether the bulk of your work takes place in a physical office, the local coffee shop, or your kitchen counter.
We have the awesome ability to make our working environment more like what we idealize through our day-to-day experiences. Some questions I’ve found helpful in navigating that fine line between work and life:
- What does it mean to be present for [your pet, family member here] while showing up for work and being productive?
- What is appropriate for sharing with HR or my team? People can’t support us if they don’t know what we’re going through.
- How can I be realistic with my team about how the situation I’m in may affect our shared projects?
- Do you have 1-2 people you are comfortable opening up to? If not, what can your organization do to make that possible?
- In turn, are you making yourself available when someone else needs a hand?
- What policies and resources are in place to assist when the going gets tough?
What kind of an impact do we want to make through our work and our everyday interactions with others?