Thursday, 31 May 2012

Technology - A vehicle for work-life balance

With companies going global, it is almost unrealistic to expect teams to be at the same site or in the same time zone.  I moved to India over 8 years ago and since then my project teams have been spread across the world.  This also means that there are more co-ordination meetings at odd times. Work is no more a 9am to 5pm job. There is really no separation between office hours and time for life outside of work. So how do we balance work and life?

For about 6 months I have had 8:30pm to 9:00pm meetings every night. I have had to co-ordinate projects across 3 time zones. It has been a balancing act during the weekends to ensure that I attend these meetings and also be there for my family, be it a birthday party, Friday night family dinner, a music concert with my spouse or an outing with my friends.

One weekend we decided to visit family who live a few hours away from us. We needed to drive on a Friday evening so that we could spend the weekend with them. But I have a regular 8:30pm to 9:00pm meeting which I have to run. I took this meeting on the highway with Internet and global conference call connectivity. I was able to run the meeting effectively and nobody on the call realized that I was on the road. I enjoyed the rest of the weekend with family.

A month ago, we had a software release which had already been running late. A couple of bug fixes needed to be made and post that the software had to go through Quality Assurance and then released with proper notification to all stake holders. My job was to co-ordinate between the various teams, ensure all work was done and approve the release on a Saturday night. As most typical projects, this did not happen on time during the day and was postponed to the evening. I had already bought tickets and was looking forward to a music concert with my friends. On most days, I would have chosen to stay with the team and follow up on the project but this time, I chose to go along with my friends and still follow up on the project. Thanks to my Blackberry, I was in touch with the team and was able to effectively make a decision for the release with SMS, Chat, emails and phone calls. While it took time away from the concert I was still able to enjoy 95% of the concert. I would rather enjoy 95% of a concert than missing it completely.

While I generally advocate working on one specific thing at a time and giving it your full attention, these exceptions have helped me be around family for the fun stuff. I have participated in meetings in hotel lobbies, restaurant parking lots, stairwells outside movie theatres and while driving my kid and his friends from a birthday party. We did not have chat software, messenger communications, SMS, mobile phones and mobile Internet connectivity technology about 2 decades ago and it is simply great that all these innovations have come up in the recent years. I also need to thank my industry for accepting all these innovations as part of regular work.

Most people believe issues with work life balance is for women only. I disagree. Work life balance is required for everyone - men, women and children. One has to have a good balance to be productive at work, to enjoy life and to keep good health.

As I have thought about it some more, I am amazed at the technology we have today that helps us make our life so much better. It has helped me merge my work life and life outside of work so well. One also has to make sure that these technologies do not get in the way of quality time with family and friends. You always have the option of turning off or ignoring these gadgets at your will. And where there is a will there is a way – a will to balance between work and home.

1 comment:

  1. Thx, technology it's most important thing now, so I'm agree with y, good article.

    Best regards
    Toby, ideals