Overworking? How to fix your unhealthy work habits

Are exhausting jobs really necessary to achieve professional success? This WORKTECH Academy briefing looks at new research which views work-life balance as a cycle rather than a one-time fix

One of the many implications of the global pandemic and its enforced experiment in working from home has been the opportunity to rethink work-life balance. But overcoming unhealthy work habits and achieving more equilibrium between work and life is much harder than we think.

According to new research led by Ioana Lupu, an associate professor at the ESSEC Business School in France, and published in the Harvard Business Review, our professional habits around work are deeply ingrained and our assumptions can be tough to overcome.

Lupu’s research team conducted nearly 200 interviews with 78 professionals working in the London offices of a global law firm and an accountancy practice. The study sample had an equal balance of men and women, with most of the interviewees aged between 30 and 50 and occupying middle or senior management roles.

‘There was an acceptance that long working hours were necessary for professional success …’

What they discovered was a general acceptance that long working hours were necessary for professional success – people were all too willing to put up with jobs they described as demanding , exhausting and chaotic.

Employees outlined various strategies to achieve a better balance between professional and personal priorities, but a common theme to emerge from the research was the need to combine reflexivity – questioning assumptions to increase self-awareness – with intentional role definition.  The study also framed work-life balance, in Lupu’s words, as ‘not a one-time fix, but rather, a cycle that we must engage in continuously as circumstances and priorities evolve’.

This cycle has five steps: first, pause and denormalise – take a step back and ask what is causing stress or imbalance; second, pay attention to your emotions – with greater awareness of your current situation, ask yourself how you really feel about it;  third, reprioritise – put things into perspective and determine how your priorities will be adjusted; fourth, consider your alternatives;  and finally, implement changes – these could involve a ‘public change’ that shifts your colleagues’ expectations in terms of your availability or a ‘private  change’ related to your own attitude.

What really matters is not back-sliding into ‘business as usual’ once you’ve decided to address over-working. If Covid-19 has taught us one thing, it is the need to work smarter, not harder.

Acoustics, productivity and future work

Another key effect of the turbulent shift towards remote working in the pandemic has been the impact on company productivity. As we gear up for a more hybrid working world amid plans to reopen offices, there is now a unique opportunity for organisations to rethink how communication is conducted within their business.

The next WORKTECH webinar explores findings from a report by EPOS with WORKTECH Academy entitled, ‘What Will the Post Covid-19 Workplace Sound Like?’ The report looks at the key drivers for workplace productivity and discusses solutions and opportunities for organisations to improve their acoustic environment.

This interactive webinar will welcome guest participation and questions as Professor Jeremy Myerson of WORKTECH Academy and the head of Research and Development at EPOS, Jesper Kock discuss the scientific research behind sound and its impact on productivity and performance. Register to join the webinar on Thursday 11th February here.

Smart tools for a safe return

WORKTECH continues to roll out its popular virtual conference series into 2021. The next event, the Resource Management Technology Virtual Symposium, will take place on 9 February at 14:00 – 16:00 GMT. This half-day conference and innovations exhibition will explore how room and desk booking technologies are shaping the office experience and the new world of work into 2021.

As part of the return-to-the-office strategy, we will need new technology and solutions to measure and book spaces as well as other data to provide a safe and secure environment. This event will showcase leading innovations, as well as preview WORKTECH’s upcoming technology guide which analyses the key players in the industry.

Keynote speakers at the event include leaders from Accenture and Sony, and there will be opportunity to network with a global audience of thought leaders across the industry. Book here.

In our WORKTECH Wednesday Briefings, we reach out to our 10,000-plus Academy members, WORKTECH attendees, speakers, partners and sponsors while WORKTECH’s professional live conference series paused due to the coronavirus pandemic. This edition is posted 3 February 2021.
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