When work-life balance suddenly becomes real
Nothing on earth can prepare you for the impact of parenthood. It’s a massive – and necessary – change that occurs in your day-to-day routine, your family dynamics, your sleeping patterns … even in the way you think about life in general. Suddenly your priorities are different. It feels as though you’ve taken responsibility for something so precious that nothing else matters as much. And yet, your daily life must continue. You still need to provide. You still need to build and grow a career. You still need to deliver on your commitments.
In my personal experience, parenthood is when the concept of work-life balance suddenly becomes real. When my daughter, Charlotte, was born, I was able to take only one-and-a-half days of paternity leave. I was in the midst of a double acquisition which, at the time, required extensive travel from my home in the UK to our offices in Australia and the US. Juggling my responsibilities as a new parent with the demands of my job was challenging and often meant putting my family second.
Then I started using Dimension Data’s videoconferencing functionality to stay in touch with my family during work trips. I was able to build a closer relationship with my daughter despite not being physically at home. Over time, I started finding opportunities to videoconference for work too, which enabled me to travel far less than before – only about once a month. At present, I spend five hours a day on video, I work from home when possible, and I do my best to ensure that I’m home on Friday evenings and Monday mornings.
Messaging and presence are two factors crucial in supporting the work-from-home strategies that we’ve implemented at Dimension Data. It allows for real-time connection to the office and greater accountability on the part of employees. Shared calendars and virtual team rooms like Microsoft® SharePoint, Yammer, and WhatsApp enable me to view what each team member is working on, keep abreast of all project developments, and deliver on my own commitments.
Voice and video platforms are hugely beneficial in breaking down the frustrations of remote working, thanks to connective technologies and smart devices. Without Wi-Fi, working remotely would be impossible, but thanks to my tablet and smartphone (with instant messaging and video functionality) I have access to a rich form of interaction with my colleagues and clients – regardless of where they’re located.
It may sound like a cliché coming from someone who works for a leading ICT company, but I really dig technology. Not for technology’s sake, but for what it can do to connect me to people every day … and that includes the fantastic colleagues I work with, as well as those who matter most to me at home. Also read this great e-book – the first in a series of four – for a few more compelling thoughts about technology and how you can use it to help balance your own and your employees’ work and lives.