Do you often find yourself rooted to your phone? Or staring at your laptop screen for the array of mails that are yet to come? Do you have nightmares of missing important project deadlines? Do you see imagined missed calls from your boss?
Welcome to the age of the ‘always available’ work culture. As the number of jobs increases, so does the number of prospective applicants, and before you know it, you’re battling it out to lead a project by the coffee machine, you’re pooling in all-nighters at the office once you get it and your weekends are spent prepping for the same.
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You are so afraid of being penalised for not constantly being at the beck and call of your professional superiors that you forget that you have a life beyond the one you spend slogging out at your desk. This generation has witnessed one of the most extreme work cultures yet, where we are encouraged to prioritise our careers over every other aspect of our lives, including relationships, sleep, travel and even health. Too often, we are called a ‘hot mess’ if we decide to take the day off and sleep, and we are judged for exiting the office gates an hour before schedule.
Our lives are rounded around our phones and laptops, our brains are constantly dreading that extra phone call or that extra mail stating that we have yet another deadline on yet another ‘priority basis’ project, leading to yet another night of skipping dinner and no sleep. People work extra shifts to prove their dedication, and some crawl home at midnight, only to be seated at their desks six hours later.
When did the world escape the contours of ‘work-life balance’? When did it become a mandate for working professionals to sieve off their personal lives for the fulfilment of their professional ones?
Working in a high-intensity workplace means running your lives by a three-tiered process: Accepting, Passing and Revealing. At the ‘Accepting’ tier, the employee becomes a slave to the system and spends their eating, breathing and sleeping hours at their desks, because that’s how they perceive the work-life norm to be. They are capable and proficient and revered for their flawless execution, but they make one serious blunder – they put all their eggs into one basket. Married to their work, they have no identity beyond it. If, someday, they were forcibly evicted from their job, they wouldn’t know how to cope.
An employee belonging to the second tier of ‘Passing’ works at a mediate level, where they do pool in maximum effort in their job but also execute their responsibilities smartly - like taking on regional jobs so they can spend more time at home or focusing on local industries, so that they can reign in some free extra hours. However, they mask their professional lives to enjoy their personal ones and vice versa, with the two often getting jingled up. The ‘Revealing’-tiered employee realises that they cannot pool twenty seven hours into a twenty four-hour long day. They do not wish to apply the shorthanded strategy that the middle category endorses. These are the brave souls who reveal their personal lives to their employers and ask them to accommodate, only to be mostly penalised for it.
So question is, how do you survive a high-intensity workplace?
Emphasising quality over quantity
We are deluded with the idea that the more working hours we pool in, the more our work will be deemed ‘credible’. However, managers and task-bearers should make it clear to employees that hard work will be credited and applauded according to quality of the work produced and not the quantity.
Arranging regular counselling sessions on ‘work-life’ balance
Too often, workers are made to believe that work should be gifted priority over any, and all, aspects of their personal lives. Movies and books have spoken about the successful yet tragic characters who could never maintain happy and intimate relationships because they couldn’t afford to focus on anything but building their career. It’s important for the management to procure regular counselling sessions on the importance of maintaining a work-life balance and not give in to these falsified notions of ‘driven successes’.
Implementing measures for stress-free breaks
Although paid leaves are a norm in almost every office, it is imperative that measures like these are incorporated in the constitution of all high-intensity workplaces. This includes measures like fixed work-hours, institute-required vacations and hosting social events like dinner parties and banquets for employees and their families to make them feel more inclusive and proud.
Encouraging a life outside the perimeters of your office space
Managers should encourage their employees to travel and be involved in activities beyond their workspace, be it in health, politics, sports or otherwise. They need to make it clear that by being involved in other activities, they can bring a more wholesome experience to the table, which will garner them greater advantages in the future.
The mantra to a ‘happy-work-happy-home’ environment may differ for all people. But, always remember – you are your own person and you have a right to your own life. So don’t go around living it for anything else.
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