Happiness 4 Me Is ….. A Good Work-Life Balance
This may sound like a stretch but it is true that a good work-life balance changes how one sees life. A recent study conducted by Swiss Bank UBS has found the two Indian cities they had taken under consideration, Mumbai and Delhi, have the highest working hours. How many times do we hear of people saying they get out at 8 am in the morning and by the time they are home its 9 pm? That’s 13 hours of a day gone!
Proper working hours and emphasis on balance is especially important to me because I am a person who suffers from anxiety, depression and a host of other things which unnecessary stress can trigger. My first “proper” job was at a startup. Like all startups the business volume was still not projected properly hence we would often be understaffed. It was a rude awakening for me to the reality of the Indian workspace. To make things worse I came from a city that is particularly known for its bad work culture. However, being a start-up also meant my office actually functioned a lot better than many others. Emphasis was laid that we go home once our work was done without dragging out timings. Promptness at work was also emphasized so no one had to do overtime.
When I came back from the UK I found out to my horror, that is not a sentiment many share in the city. I joined a reputed law firm and the toll it took on my health was outstanding. I was in the office 15 hours each day even when I had nothing to do, was working 6 days a week and getting a leave was impossible even for medical reasons. This was in sharp contrast to the UK where I was working at a part-time in a food joint.
My experience in UK taught me that work does not need to be a soul-sucking event where I can forget about pursuing things at my leisure. I did not fear working long hours because the regulations were strict on how many hours a week I could work so we could get an extra day off. None of this compromised with the payment either. As if on cue, my productivity increased and in turn that had a better effect on my mental health. I looked forward to working and I felt like I was achieving something even though I was merely working in a food joint. At times, we were encouraged to take days off for a holiday (to spend the holiday fund cut from our salaries) which was great for me as being able to travel is a huge incentive for me.
A good work-life balance reduces burnouts significantly and helps manage stress. It also works as a motivation for people to work instead of work becoming this dreaded space or a vicious cycle where toxic attitudes are naturally encouraged. We are in dire need of understanding that slaving away hours at the office is not working hard; not is working hard a bigger credit than working smart. Our seniors need to understand this more than ever. I do not know if I will ever see that day in India but here is hoping that with increased globalization and more Indians traveling to and fro, this scenario will change very soon.