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Jessica Rowe
Culture Journalist

Jessica Rowe is a Melbourne-based writer with a passion for not-for-profits, the digital world and making a difference

Jessica Rowe
Culture Journalist

Jessica Rowe is a Melbourne-based writer with a passion for not-for-profits, the digital world and making a difference

From typewriters to tablets, technology has changed how we operate. But has it taken over our lives?

A staggering 13 million Australians spend 18 hours a day online – that’s 6,570 hours a year. With our behaviour influenced by technology, smartphones and superfast internet, it’s now considered normal to be online and available 24/7. At the same time, work life balance is important, as is the ability to switch off and avoid burnout.

a close up of a woman's feet dangling over water on the edge of a pier

Great expectations

More than 70 per cent of Australian consumers check their email first thing in the morning – the world is changing.

When it comes to communication, we can now respond to messages in seconds. Email and text messages have given us more control, flexibility and freedom.

We can send presentations to other offices, even countries, without worrying about time differences. Video conferencing, webcams and chat apps help us connect no matter the location – helping teams unite, build relationships with clients and sign off deals without the need for everyone to be in the same physical office. 

Although technology has revolutionised the business world, simplified process and seamlessly connected global offices, it has also come with new challenges and expectations. People send files, emails and feedback at times that suit them, not the receiver. The traditional “nine to five” business hours no longer apply. At the same time, some people expect a response almost instantly. Not replying to an “urgent email” after 8:00pm is seen as less-than-ideal in some circles.

The idea of shutting down almost seems impossible.  

A perfect balance

There are businesses that are now changing policies and approaches to cater to this new expectation. Telstra for example, has incorporated All Roles Flex – meaning that flexibility in some form is something its open to discussing for all its workers. Flexibility can include part-time work, different working hours, or working from different locations instead of the traditional ‘36.75 hour week’.

Globally, businesses and brands have become famous for enforcing a work life balance. UK cloud and internet provider, Peer1 Hosting, is ranked 15 in the UK as one of the top companies to work for. They offer flexibility and allow their staff to work from home or on the road without asking for permission.

Airbnb is also famous for its incredible staff benefits. Employees are given $2,000 each per year to travel to any destination in the world – a free holiday not only increases morale, but encourages staff to work above and beyond. 

The benefits of balance

It’s no secret that a healthy work life balance can also lead to success – both at an employee and business level. According to business.gov.au, benefits include:

  1. Increased productivity
  2. Retained staff and fewer resignations
  3. Increased morale
  4. Attracting new employees

Take the good with the bad

While you may not have the opportunity to work for Airbnb or Peer1 Hosting, self-management can be key to maintaining a healthy and achievable work life balance. While technology has enabled constant communication, it’s also enabled you to work more flexibly than any generation that’s gone before you.

Night owls and early risers alike can work when they’re most productive, and business owners that facilitate working conditions that cater for the individual will reap rewards. However, it’s incumbent on the business owner to have policies that encourage flexibility and technology like productivity apps that ensure there’s no impact on efficiency.

Creating a flexible workplace 

  1. Speak to your staff. They’re on the ground so will know where efficiencies can be found and how they want to work
  2. Invest in technology that facilitates work-life balance. Not all technologies are created equal: apps can help or hinder staff when it comes to efficiency and bringing back balance. Do your research to find out what will suit
  3. Enforce boundaries. Some staff will still want to work beyond their contracted hours. Be clear that you’re a workplace that believes in life outside work and enforce people taking time off
  4. Check your staff policies. Policies that encourage a deadlines-at-all-cost mindset are going to be more likely to result in higher staff turnover, a poor reputation as an employer and lower productivity in the long run
Sometimes staying home can help you focus.

Here are ways to prioritise and do what matters.

Find out more

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