Workers and employers are fully switched on to the importance of work/life balance nowadays. But however much we talk about it, many of us are better at the theory than the practice.
On average, 62 per cent of the UK’s workforce has taken on additional duties since the recession and 39 per cent of us feel we are now spending more and more time away from home, according to a recent work/life balance survey we carried out.
In many cases, it’s not so much your job that is the problem, but the commute. Flexible working practices can help here – using alternative workspaces that are closer to home.
Progress is being made. We see our network of business centres used every day by people working remotely so they can get home earlier. It’s better for the environment (less commuting means fewer carbon emissions) and better for work-life balance.
So are you working too hard? And should you be making more time for yourself and your loved ones? See how many of these tell-tale signs apply to you…
1. You dial for an outside line… when you’re at home
You pick up the phone to make a call, tap in the digits and spend a frustrated five minutes cursing your inability to get an outside line. And then you suddenly realise you’re at home and trying to call your mother.
2. You lose your weekend lie-in
It’s Saturday morning, it’s 6am and you’re wide awake! You’re so used to getting up early that, even though you’ve promised yourself a lie-in, your brain wakes you up at the exact moment your alarm usually goes off.
3. You’re putting on weight
Is the work outfit a bit tighter than before? It could be all that time spent behind your desk is having an adverse effect on your waistline.
With the average worker spending over five hours a day at the desk, and nearly 70 per cent of employees not getting the recommended levels of physical activity, it’s easy for the pounds to pile on. One survey found that 42 per cent of office workers have gained up to a stone in a year due to snacking at their desks.
So rather than going in early, why not head to the gym for half an hour? Or consider working closer to home – at a satellite office or local business centre – and then walk to work instead?
4. You’re best friends with the night shift
Are you best friends with the overnight team? If you’ve been working late so much recently you know more about how the security guard’s children are getting on than your own, it could be time to check your priorities. Go home already!
5. You’re becoming a funny shape
Aches and pains in your shoulders and back can be a sign that you’re spending too much time at your desk. Research suggests too much computer work can lead to musculoskeletal disorders and poor posture.
There are plenty of exercises you can do to counteract the effects – ask at the gym, or look online. Or better still, cut down your time in the office by looking into options like Third Place working – that way you’re not chained to a desk and you’re only in the office when you need to be.
6. You’re the only person in the train carriage on the commute home
For many of us the commute to work means long queues and standing room only. If you’re always able to get a seat, it’s may be because you’re travelling when everyone else has long gone home… On the other hand, you may already be using flexible working hours to avoid rush hour; in which case, congratulations.
7. You’re stocking up on energy drinks
We all head to the coffee machine for a little boost to keep us going. But do you also find yourself stocking up on caffeine drinks and sugar-rich energy bars to get you through the day?
If you find your energy level is only as good as your last cappuccino or high-energy drink, you might just be overdoing things. And there could be some potentially worrying side effects too, so be aware of the possible health effects of caffeine. There’s no substitute for a healthy diet and regular sleep.
Steve Purdy is UK managing director at workspace provider Regus.
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