Work life balance is described as the equilibrium between your professional and personal life. It means that the time spent on your work is balanced with the time spent for yourself. Whether you want to bake, go out, nap, or even start a new hobby, proper work life balance is when you have the time to do so. However, work life balance is also a precarious thing that many of us struggle with, especially now that the pandemic is popularising the work-from-home culture. A study conducted by US-based security specialist, Kisi, examines the best cities for work life balance in 2020. Unfortunately, Kuala Lumpur ranked 47th out of the 50 major cities worldwide. But how much has our work life balance been affected since working from home?
The Kisi Work Life Balance Study
According to the study, Kuala Lumpur is also part of the top 5 overworked cities in the world! Kisi takes into account variables such as work intensity, society and institutions, city livability, and Covid-19 impact. Once the data was collected, it was analysed for each factor to create a weighted average for the final score in each category. This was then aggregated into a final score for each city.
After looking at these findings, we were curious to gain more insight and see what Malaysians say for ourselves. Thus, we also conducted a small survey on our social media platforms and by distributing some questions. Our questions were:
- Do you think your work hours (hours you actually do work) are too long or that you are overworked?
- Do you feel like you have enough time for personal activities?
- If you have been working from home, do you think your work life balance has been more compromised?
- Do you feel like your work life balance can actually be improved?
Interestingly enough, 52% of our respondents said no to the first question. This means that slightly more than half of them do not feel overworked. However, nearly 51% of respondents don’t feel like they have enough time for personal activities. This might indicate that although they don’t feel overworked, they are still lacking extra time. Meanwhile, 56% feel that working from home has compromised their work life balance. Lastly, nearly a whopping 89% feel that their work life balance could do with some improvement.
Looking for more Answers
Wanting to gain some more insight, we distributed these questions to several people for some explanations. For the first question, one of our respondents mentioned that having a constant workload can make them feel overworked despite sticking to regular hours. Another mentioned that sometimes they need to work overtime or bring the work home to finish it. On the flip side, one respondent talks about making it a point to never start later than 10am and to never end later than 6pm as a way to stick to working hours.
When asked about personal activities, one answered that most of their personal activities have been cancelled due to the pandemic. Meanwhile, another respondent finds themselves with more time for personal activities as time for commuting to work is saved. However, one does not have time because almost all daylight hours are spent working.
Moving on, some respondents don’t feel that work life balance is compromised due to working from home. One talks about how having a routine and setting up boundaries can positively contribute to work life balance. However, a few respondents share the same sentiment that working from home removes boundaries and can blend together both personal and work life. An example from a respondent is the need to look through emails while having meals and responding to calls during breaks.
Lastly, a huge majority of our respondents agree that there is always room to improve work life balance. Many of them are aware that a variety of factors go into it such as colleagues, the nature of the work, home life, time management, and more. One feels that it is important for employers to understand that working from home is different. Another suggested that contact outside of working hours can be restricted.
Good Work Life Balance is Essential
Working from home is definitely an interesting factor to take into consideration. Even the Kisi study acknowledges and accounts for it. Building on the concept from Kisi, other surveys from around the world are showing an unhappy trend. Employees are finding their working days might be one to four hours longer as they spend additional time in meetings and check-ins, attempt to prove their productivity, or simply lose track of time.
Having balance is really important in maintaining your health, both mentally and physically. Those who are constantly working deal with symptoms of stress and burnout which ultimately leads to a decrease in their job ability and performance level. Other than that, they can also suffer from illnesses and physical disorders including heart disease, alcoholism, and even diabetes. People need time to relax, recharge, and enjoy the life they have worked so hard to create. Moreover, they need to have time for friends and family members.
Moving Towards A Better Balance
So how can we strive towards a better balance? Ideally, employers should also be working hand in hand with employees to ensure they have enough time for themselves. However, if it’s completely up to you, don’t lose hope because there are still ways to improve.
Here are some ways to improve your work life balance:
- Set up a daily regime to ensure that you focus on the main things at the right hours
- Leave work at work by closing your laptop, turning off your phone, and setting boundaries
- Say no to stressful things that aren’t beneficial
- Prioritise your free time for activities that make you feel good
- Use to-do lists to stay on track
- Have shared calendars
- Start scheduling and planning your day the night before
What do you think? As working from home seems to be the norm these days, and could even be a mainstay, do you think it will affect your work life balance for the worst, or has it already done so?