Recently, I was on a very cool "virtual" work-life panel discussion for technical leaders across my company. I was one of three panelists in an audio conference with a group chat function enabled and a global audience participating.
One of the first questions came from someone in India who asked:
"What are your suggestions for work-life balance for people who work extended hours, weekends and are on call pretty much consistently for business reasons."
Many of us do have to participate in conference calls across many time zones.
- For a US East Coast company, you will often find people on the West Coast up at 5am for calls.
- If you are US based and need to talk with many people in Asia, then you are going to be taking calls after your dinner.
- And we often ask people overseas to participate in call at all hours of their days or nights.
(If anyone had to participate in an 8 hour meeting on "non-working" hours, we are talking agony).
As an added point, e-mail doesn't necessarily make work-life challenges worse. The expectation that you need to respond to e-mail 24 hours a day is what makes them worse.
So what's the answer?
- Do your job well. Be successful in your job by being flexible in your work hours as needed. Accept it as part of your job.
- Don't forget the rest of your daily life. If you have a call at 5am, find the time later in the day when you are going to step out of work and focus on non-work things. Same if you have an evening call.
So how do you do it?
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate. Set expectations.
And remember -- don't think about stopping work. Think about what is that you have chosen to start! And do it.Photo credit: Bahaish Kapoor