Work-life balance has come under public scrutiny in the past week or so with the announcement that the new, 6-months pregnant CEO of Yahoo! does not plan to take any maternity leave. Whatever your personal opinion of her decision, we all know how tough it can be to sit the demands of a busy career alongside personal interests and social lives so we feel our lives are balanced and fulfilling. It’s often something we don’t consider about our colleagues, as well. What do people become when (or if) they leave the office?
With this in mind I thought I’d do a quick, entirely unscientific survey of a selection of my colleagues at Tower Bridge to see how they spend their time outside work. The results threw up some really interesting occupations. A huge number of green-fingered souls are growing their own food in gardens and allotments. Even more are cooks and bakers, and several identified themselves as gastronomists (perhaps a link-up is in order). Sportsmen and women include a high-level hockey player and any number of runners, as well as tennis players and footballers (and gym-bunnies are a multiplying breed). On the artistic side we have singers, a former professional-level ballet dancer, a creative writer and artists including painters and a potter, as well as those hardy people who attend festivals frequently (I’ll be honest, with this year’s summer weather I don’t envy them that particular occupation). We even have one member of the office who furthers his dedication to science by participating in a clinical trial on his days and evenings off. Overall, it was fascinating to see the diversity of talent, time-organisation and dedication displayed by unassuming members of our office, even given a relatively small sample size.
So what does this lead me to? There is always pressure in society to achieve more and more at work; our success often seems to be defined by our job title or salary. And yet it’s been reported that Generation Y don’t share the same interest in pure career success that their parents did: they seek the elusive ‘work-life balance’. Does that exist? What does it even mean? This debate will doubtless go on, but if you define a work-life balance as enabling you to find time for the things you enjoy, while still working to be the best you can in your career, I think the merry folk at Tower Bridge do a pretty good job of approximating it.
Nicky Booth, Senior Account Executive