Friday, September 25, 2009

Is Work-Life Balance a Cultural Issue?

I read a very interesting article yesterday in which the author spoke about how much she hated having discussions about the balance between life and work. For her, there was no distinction between the two, she gave an example of how getting our of the office for a few days to go camping would renew her creativity and therefore she could come up with fresh, new, and great ideas.

That sounds very nice, however, how many of us are able to do that? How many of us can actually go to our boss and say, "I know there is a pile of things on my desk that need to be done, but I have to take 3 days off to come up with some great ideas for our meeting next week". I haven't worked for too many companies, but I have never seen anyone do that.
Is this a matter of culture? and in this case, not the culture of a specific country, but the culture of a company, or maybe even the industry.

If I think about Marketing or any area of Design, I can imagine people finding inspiration in unusual places...

Anyhow, going back to the work-life balance that I started talking about; back in Mexico it was not even something people would question, they could stay in the office until very late hours without being able to complain about not spending time with their families. When I came to Canada 4 years ago, I was suprised to see the office completely empty at 5:05pm. This for me was like being in heaven, however, after four years, I have met a lot of people who still complain about not having a well balanced life here. I have heard that in some countries in Europe people can take 1 and even 2 months of vacation. In Italy, for example (my hairdresser, an Italian immigrant, told me this) people work in the morning, then take a 2 hour break and go back to work for the rest of the day. She was saying how the place dies down during those two hours and all the businesses close!

So, I guess it is a matter of cultural differences in the end, it does make a difference where you live. But it is also a matter of what is important to you and how much priority you give to it in your life. If, for example, you want to be with your children everyday after school and help them do their homework, then you will have to look for a part time job even if that means making less money...

Then, I ask you, is work-life balance a matter of culture or an individual choice?

1 comment:

  1. Very, very interesting! I do believe it is a matter of individual choice and having the courage to fight for "your" perfect balance no matter what. Thanks for sharing!