Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Sleeping With The Enemy (Your Smart Phone)

A recent Washington Post article by Leslie Perlow on Why 'Work-Life Balance' Doesn't Work caught my eye this morning. Perlow takes a great angle on this, that when the argument is work-life balance it's a mom issue, but when it's being "on" 110% and connected to your smart phone (even during sleeping hours!) it's human issue, one that affects men and women, parents and non-parents alike. And apparently, me, as although I forbid the iPhone from entering the inner confines of my bedroom at home, I found myself answering a work email from a rain-soaked tent during a family camping trip at 10pm on a Sunday night.

Perlow studies the Boston Consulting Group, a hard-charging management consulting firm that makes money on billable hours by attending to their clients' needs at any time of day or night, often with weekly travel involved. That doesn't sound like a lot of balance, but they've recently instituted some fairly progressive policies that value "predictable time off" to maximize efficiency, client satisfaction, employee retention and of course above all else, profit.

This takes me back to my own management consulting days, and ultimate demise, as I just couldn't find a way to make the billable hours model work. If I didn't ask for flexibility, I was losing my head with young twins at home. If I did ask for it, I was mommy-tracked. By participating in company-sanctioned programs I was getting passed over for promotions by my non-parent colleagues. If I used even half of my allotted paid time off I wouldn't meet my utilization goal, the holy grail of billable hours.

But all's well that ends well, as I set off on a series of freelancing gigs that eventually led me to Momentum Resources, where we not only help our clients fill key roles and our candidates achieve their desired level of work-life balance but I now have what I dreamed about while sitting in interminable corporate meetings.  I sometimes have to remind myself that I finally have what I always wanted.

So despite the fact that I answered my first work-related email at 4:48am today, I am able to have breakfast, afternoon pool time AND dinner with my kids today. I had to answer that work-related client email at 10pm on Sunday night while dodging rain drops in the tent because I was off Friday with the boys, engaging in all manner of summer fun. It's harried, my iphone is ALWAYS with me, but - for me- it's better than it was when I had before. I can always go back to a clear delineation of work vs. home hours in a traditional corporate environment but I like the fact that I'm constantly straddling both worlds.

1 comment:

Marilyn - hi Jenn! said...

The difference between your old life and new life? YOU get to set when you are answering e-mails and calls, not some corporate suit who doesn't know (or care) about your work-life balance. The change in pronoun (I vs. they) could be the one word answer to why I prefer running a company to working for one. You may be answering e-mails at 4:48 AM or 10 PM, and there are surely times when you are cursing the day you ever said goodbye to describing a problem as above your pay grade (even tongue in cheek). But I know, on my worst day, that these are the choices and the risks/rewards that I took, and not those that were foisted upon me. Long live the entrepreneur!