Work

5 Lessons We Can Learn From Europeans to Strike Work-Life Balance

"The human body is a biological machine and like all other machines, can wear out", says Cary L. Cooper, who is a Professor of Organizational Psychology and Health at Lancaster University Management School, England. Professor Cooper aptly points out what most of us have forgotten in the rat race of achieving success and minting moolah.

What is most unfortunate is that we forget that the machine called our body can also wear out, and when it does, all moolah we have been concentrating on earning will be spent on getting it back to shape, and it still may not be enough. But somewhere in the Indian context we have forgotten this truth. But there are lessons that we can learn from Europeans that will keep us effective & productive in our work and also happy & content.

Lesson Number 1# Working hours are called so for a reason

This is something that we Indians seem to have lost any sense of. There is a reason for the concept of working hours. While it is ok to go beyond the usual hours in case of an emergency, but putting in five to six hours (and much more) extra every day is bound to bring you down. That is something the Europeans understand and follow pretty well.

If you give a project at 5 pm to somebody in Europe, the person doesn't cancel all his evening plans to sweat it out and get it done anyhow immediately. They know that it will not only affect them mentally and physically, but it will also affect the quality of work. That is a lesson we can learn.

Lesson Number 2# Weekends are for yourself and for family

This is another rule the Europeans follow religiously unless in a real crisis and then too the company acknowledges the huge sacrifice the employee has made. Unlike, in our culture where if you are not slogging yourself at least a few weekends every month, you are considered non-committed to work and company. Exactly opposite to this, if in Europe you are found frequently visiting the office on weekends, it means either you are not being effective at your work or you are simply misusing official resources.

This kind of an approach really balances people. Spending two days just with yourself, friends and family is what rejuvenates you and sets you up for working effectively in the coming week. If you miss all that and sit in the office, there is no way you are going to have the right energy, mindset and focus to work.



Lesson Number 3# Calling, texting or emailing for work after the work hours is unprofessional

Calling, texting or emailing for work after the work hours is unprofessional. Those hours are for you to relax, have dinner & slow down the pace of your tired body & mind. Maintaining this much of separation from work once again relaxes your mind and refreshes it for work the next morning. Unfortunately, we in India believe exactly the opposite. We come from a space that if you do not respond to a call, text or email related to work just when received, even if it is in the wee hours, you are not as aligned to business needs are is expected.

An article carried on our site previously ('Stop Answering Work Email at Night to Work Better in the Morning) highlights this: "The research conducted by three separate universities found that monitoring your email at night actually resulted in less productivity the following day. Using your phone even 30 minutes before bedtime could result in not only decreased sleep quality, but drained productivity."

Lesson Number 4# Vacation means vacation

When Europeans go on vacation, they really go on vacation. That means no work calls, messages or emails. Vacation is their personal time and they know the world will not come falling if they don't work for a few days.

There is a great learning for us here as we Indians have become more of being connected to work 24*7, which is not really serving us as individuals or even to our company in any way. Working on vacations or even answering work related emails keeps us thinking about work and occupies our mind space. This stops us from really enjoying our vacation and thus it loses its refreshing impact. No wonder we are more stressed after coming from vacation than if we don't go.

Lesson Number 5# Work is not means to prove our self-image

European people are to known to be one of the most secure workers and work for them is not about their self image, unlike what happens in India. Europeans don't make work their means to prove themselves. This is also rooted in the cultural and economical differences of the two countries. Culturally, Europeans are not much worried about what people think about them or about proving themselves to others. Thus, the same attitude reflects in their work. They work passionately but not to prove anything to anyone, but because they enjoy it.

And unlike what you will be thinking, Europeans are very effective and productive employees, & they do this by consciously separating work so well from their personal life.


Photo by: Thinkstock Images
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