Work Life Week - are we living to work, or working to live?
The average UK employee will spend around 85,000 hours at work during their lifetime – that's just under ten years*!
Globally this number is on the rise, so it’s no surprise that having a healthy work life balance is becoming essential to employed people and their employers – perhaps even more so for those with children at home.
This week marks National Work Life Week (11-15 October), a campaign run by Working Families that explores the importance of maintaining a healthy balance for working parents and carers, whilst also giving both employers and employees the chance to shine a light on wellbeing and the work life mix in the workplace.
It also follows the release of a major survey, named The Better Life Index, from the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), which named The Netherlands as the country with the best work life balance. The UK was 11th from last of the 35 states in the list**. Determining factors include leisure and personal time, the employment of mothers, household income and wealth, and working hours.
At work, benefits are central to a healthy balance - from flexible working (something a lot of us have become accustomed to since the pandemic) through to supportive financial benefits or professional development. For many, being able to continue to better themselves is key to maintaining a healthy sense of wellbeing, yet finding time to study can be hard.
Open Study College student Aneta is 30 years old and has two young children.
Originally from Poland, since living in the UK Aneta has been able to continue her education via distance learning; something that has contributed to her sense of wellbeing and happiness.
She said: “As a working mum with a busy working husband I didn’t think I had time to do anything other than fulfil those key responsibilities. Studying was something I wanted to continue to do in order to better myself in my role as a carer for those with disabilities and mental illnesses.”
She added: “I knew I wanted to study, despite lacking free time. Distance learning is so flexible, there is no pressure and I can study whenever I want to.”
Aneta is currently studying Introduction to Psychology Level 2 with us. She hopes to enrol on further courses in the future.
Other comments from students included this one from a working mum of one: “I’m so glad distance learning was an option for me. It has allowed me to strike a good work life balance between working, studying, doing the school run and spending quality time with my family.”
Talking about Work Life Week, our CEO Samantha Rutter, commented:
“Flexibility is often a key reason behind our students opting for the distance learning route. In fact, 75% of our students said that they chose distance learning as it allows them to fit studying around their schedule, including work and family commitments. A further 20% directly referenced children as a motivating factor as well. This demonstrates the importance of flexibility for people trying to create a healthy balance between work, home life and themselves.”
So, how can you try and maintain a healthy work life balance? Some of our top tips include:
- Start the day by doing something for yourself before you get stuck into work. Ideally, getting up and moving – whether it’s the gym, a quick walk round the block or a home workout, but otherwise even reading a chapter of a book or making time to eat breakfast with your kids is a nice way to ease yourself into the day, and is a reminder that you don’t just live to work.
- Make a promise to yourself to take your lunch breaks. Yes, every day!
- If you’re someone that has a lot of meetings, ring fence protected time in your diary to avoid burn out. Either certain hours of the day or certain days of the week.
- When working from home, do something productive on your lunch break like cleaning the house, it can do your mind the world of good and is one less thing to do of an evening.
- Prioritise! Work is busy and the list of things to do is never ending. You can’t say ‘no’, but you can say ‘not right now’. Keep checking on your to do list and if it’s not urgent or important, put it to the back of the queue. Remember you can’t do it all.
It can be difficult to get that healthy work life balance and it's something many of us will battle with regularly! But it is in your control. You have to be firm with yourself and put your own wellbeing first.
*Study released in 2018 stated that British workers would work on average 84,171 hours across their career.
**The list was compiled of 35 OECD member states. The organisation compiled a list of the lowest 13 and the top 10. The UK came 11th from the bottom.
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