Sunday, July 20, 2014

Work Life Balance Part 3 by Tina Erwin

The Challenge of Working from Home
The Karmic Savings and Loan Chapter 4??:  Work-Life Balance:       Part 3 The Challenge of Working From Home.
       Working from home saves time, gas, and offers the individual a freedom to manage their day. It can be amazing – or it can also be not – so – amazing.
       When you work from home, your day can begin at 5:30am so that you can get something done before the phone rings. You can go through all of your email so that you are completely caught up before the day starts.
       Once your day starts, you can work through lunch, stopping only for a quick bite to eat. You can work into the darkness and then read email again before you pass out in the wee hours of the morning.
       When you work from home, people think you have all the time in the world and they feel freer to impose on your time.
       Your family may be confused on what your work hours are and how you handle them because you don’t ‘leave’ and ‘come home.’ Family members may be frustrated that you aren’t giving them more time – after all, your home all day? They may also be far more demanding of your time because they cannot actually see what you do and you don’t leave for an office so they may or may not offer you the respect you deserve from working from home.
       You may be the one person who is the most confused of all. Working from home may be the ultimate challenge when it comes to setting boundaries of time management.
       You are the CEO of your life here, whether or not you work for someone else. Working from home is perhaps the most challenging work-life balancing act there is.
       If you work from home, and you have family members who are at home during the day with you, whether it is a retired spouse, children of any age, it is ultimate test of setting boundaries to insist that your family respect your ‘work’ day.
       Here are some tips and tools for managing working from home:
·      Have a beginning and an ending for your day.
·      Tell your family what your working hours are.
·      End your day no later than 6pm.
·      Enjoy business lunches like you would in any off site office setting.
·      When you staying home for lunch, stop working. Go to a different room, eat lunch, rest if you must but stop working for a reasonable time, at least an hour.
·      If you have family errands to run, then set aside a time to just do those things.
·      If you are in the middle of a business phone call, demand, don’t ask, demand that your family respect what you are doing and not interrupt you while you are on the phone.
·      Do not let your children answer your business phone. It is unprofessional and it will hurt your business.
·      Make sure you can close off your office.
·      Do not do email on your phone after working hours.
·      Do not have your office in your bedroom because you will be telling your subconscious that your workday never ends. It is also a constant reminder of how much work is left to do. If you worked in a traditional off site office, you wouldn’t be seeing it.
·      Keep your office neat.
·      When you stop your work day, turn off your computer, turn off your lights and if necessary, close the door.
·      Take weekends off. Take holidays off.
·      Do not answer business calls on the weekend.
·      Do not answer business calls after 6pm Monday through Friday.
·      When you are with your family, give them your entire focus.
       When you do these things, you will ultimately find that you are more professional, you garner much more respect from your family and your peers will also respect you as a professional. These are the golden keys to work-life balance. It isn’t easy, but you will be physically healthier for the long term and ultimately enjoy your work life and your home life so much more!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Work LIfe Balance Part Two by Tina Erwin

Email invades our homes. We have it on our work computer, our ipads/tablets, our phones and our home computers. We are tremendously connected, or tethered, or chained or imprisoned – but only if we allow ourselves to be treated this way.
       Email may not be the problem. The real issue is boundaries. We need to be able to say no I won’t do this or that. This is my time. Sometimes you have to force other people to respect your time, and your standards of work excellence, and you have to respect yourself.
       In a time when so many people are worried about keeping their jobs or having enough money to cover bills, there is a new paradigm that seems to be emerging that demands that our work day never end.
       This new paradigm that has slipped into our very bedrooms is making us sick, physically sick. The tension is never turned off. Our bodies never get a day off, to have fun, to laugh out loud, take a hike, sit and veg in front of a good movie or football game.
       Our busyness from work has taken over our lives like some creeping mold that is beginning to cover us, overtaking us in our waking and sleeping moments. It’s so subtle, most of us have no idea when or how this even happened, but it did, it’s there.
       Perhaps the issue is that we feel that we have all of these timesaving, instant tools that propel us into faster and faster communications scenarios and the expectation is that we will get it done faster and faster until, really, what’s the point? If everything is a fire drill, why care?
       The truth is that people cannot be on the professional firing line 24/7 and expect to work at peak efficiency. It’s like never letting a race horse leave the track and then when he does get an hour or two, you only feed him the bare minimum and then you send the poor beast out to run again until he can’t run anymore.
       There’s an old Navy saying that there will be no leave until morale improves. The irony is that you need leave, vacation time, days off to be able to come back to work fresh, ready for the week ahead, especially if the work you do doesn’t demand that you are constantly making life and death decisions.  So, let’s return to our three scenarios.
       Scenario One
       The woman who was expected to read her email on Sunday afternoon and show up to an 8am meeting Monday morning may want to take her boss aside and ask for a clarification of working hours. The executive has no need to apologize for missing the email. Work parameters should be clearly defined. She can also tell her boss that she does not work seven days a week and that she does not read email seven days a week, especially on weekends. If there is an emergency, she can ask her boss to please call her. She can also ask that if this is required, will she receive overtime for working over the normal working hours.
       This sounds gutsy, but at some point, you have to establish boundaries for yourself, your job, your family and your sanity. Actually, the executive in Scenario One did just that and does not read work email to this day at home. There are also no more ‘flash meetings’ Monday morning. Everyone benefited from one person putting the brakes on insanity, and the constant obsessive control of her boss. Boundaries have to be set and enforced. Also, she didn’t lose her job. She’s still there and now she fully enjoys her weekends.
       Scenario Two
       You decide to handle the email from this demanding group by keeping it professional. You kindly explain to the boss who hosted the group, on Monday morning, that you have a deep and profound respect for the work-life balance of your entire staff and that none of you read email on Sundays or weekends. You thank him for understanding and promise to get him the edited power point by close of business on Monday. Actually you get it to him by 11am. 
       The outcome of this true-life situation is that the host of this group was not professional. He never responded to a single email, not the first one, nor the second one where the power point presentation was provided. This man was rude. Perhaps he was miffed that someone stood up to him. Ultimately, it is his loss.
       Organizations work with, for and among other organizations, including other companies who may have extremely abusive policies. Each CEO, Manager, Supervisor and Executive has a moral duty to their staff to make sure that no one else abuses their people. People are your most critical resource. It is important that management stand up for them.
       Scenario Three
       Lets go back to our demanding boss who never takes a moment off and is chronically ill. This is another scenario where it is critical to set your personal boundaries. While it is easy to suggest to all who read this that you have to stand up for yourself and set your boundaries, it is quite another to decide to do this if you are worried about your job. However the bottom line is that you simply cannot keep up the pace of work if you never rest your body.
       Ultimately, you won’t be able to keep your job if you are constantly out sick. Remember, if your subconscious thinks that you need time off and you are not taking it, your subconscious will make you sick to ensure you can finally have ‘legally sanctioned’ down time, meaning you get to take a sick day.
       It is interesting to note that France has passed a new law that prohibits after-hours emails.  Check out this link:

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Work Life Balance Part One by Tina Erwin

     The first time it happens to you, you find yourself a little stunned. How did this happen? When did it change? Did I miss the memo on this? Who decided that this was okay?
      Scenario One
       You come into work Monday morning and your officemates are not there, they are all in a meeting, a meeting you obviously didn’t know about. You aren’t sure what the meeting is about, but it looks like the entire staff is there and you quietly slip into the back.
       When your boss notices you, she embarrasses you by asking you why you didn’t read your email that she sent you. You explain that you didn’t get an email about this meeting on Friday. No, she says, the email I sent out at 4pm yesterday afternoon, you know, Sunday afternoon. Why weren’t you reading your email?
       Now you can boldly go where no executive has gone before and observe that you weren’t aware that this organization worked 24/7 or you can mumble a humble apology for missing the meeting.
       Leaving the meeting, your officemates look at you like you are a complete failure. What’s wrong with her, you can hear them thinking.
       There’s nothing wrong with her! She had no idea she was expected to work seven days a week. There was no memo that discussed office expectations of never having an entire day off.
      Scenario Two
       You make a presentation to a group on a Saturday. Your entire staff gives up their Saturday to do this special work task that will bring in more business. You have all worked night and day to get this done. The presentation is a wonderful success. Everyone is pleased. Their Saturday workday ends around four. Everyone is exhausted from the tension of the workup and then the successful presentation. You tell everyone to have “a great rest of what’s left of the weekend!”
       Monday morning, as you are reading your email, you notice that the Chairman of the group hosting your presentation the previous Saturday, sent out an email at 7am Sunday morning demanding an edited copy of your power point presentation to share with several hundred people. It was due to him before Monday morning.
       Your power point will take time to edit, condense, review and then send to him. You had no idea that you were expected to check email all day Sunday, to work all day Sunday, on a serious deadline no less.
       You can’t help but ask yourself: why was this such a fire drill? Why was this an emergency?
       So, how do you handle this since you have obviously missed his rushed deadline?
       Scenario Three
      Your boss is tired all the time. She works literally from dawn to dusk and expects everyone else to do the same. She is also sick all the time. She never rests and she sends emails out like there is a quota for how many a person can send and she maxes out that quota every day. She sends them day and night, memo after memo, Saturday, Sunday and holidays. It never ends.   
       She expects you to read and answer her emails promptly. She has no family, no ties that bind her, only the identity that is her job. She thinks you are a slacker if you aren’t constantly reading and responding to email. Push, Push, Push, get it done.
       She’s burning everyone out. Since her day and her week never ends, obviously neither does anyone else’s.
       Part two: The devil that is email.