The Possible Work-Life Balance

Technology gives parents the chance to have a much more active role in parenting, while fulfilling their obligations as executives or entrepreneurs.

Friday, June 15, 2012

By Fernando Ramirez - VP Sales, CA Technologies Central America and Caribbean

If we analyze the labor scene 50 years ago, we find a very different reality today. At that time, work was more structured than it is today and, barring a few occasions, it was unthinkable to have flexible working hours. Working from home didn’t exist even in people’s dreams, it was simply a utopia. In this context, the idea of a more marked division of labor in the family was more logical: women usually stayed home to look after the children while the men went to work.

Luckily today that picture has changed. The division of labor between parents is much more balanced, and labor management paradigms allow both men and women to manage the relationship between family and career more freely. New technologies play a major role in this situation by allowing video calls to be made at almost no cost to anywhere in the world and even allowing people to work from home and thereby spend more time with the children.

One of the most important changes that took place in the workplace about 2 or 3 decades ago has to do with telecommuting. According to a recent study by IPSOS, 62% of workers would like to be able to perform their tasks at a distance. This mode enables anyone, male or female, to be able to spend more time at home, and, for example, not to have to leave their children with strangers for most of the day.

Another benefit of new technologies is that working hours can be flexible, and therefore can be adapted to make room for a lunch or to accompany children to school. Without a doubt, details like this mean that the quality of family life can be increased significantly, it means no loss in terms of labor, because time can be made up later on without interfering with personal needs.

Working from home or having a flexible schedule provides advantages both for those who are parents and those who are not. It is also positive for employers, as it has been found that the productivity of those working from home is higher. A study by Stanford Economics, showed that teleworkers increased their productivity by 12%, partly because they had more time available and because they could work in a quieter environment. At the same time it reduces costs for the company because not all employees are in the office, companies like AT & T say they managed to save over $100 million in a year because of this type of management. Moreover, many hours can be saved in commuting, which helps reduce traffic, pollution from cars and stress.

Today, the same job title which 20 years ago required executives to travel the world constantly being absent from the home for several days or even weeks, can be solved with fewer trips thanks to a greater the flow of communications, which allow clients to video conference from anywhere on the planet, sending large amounts of information smoothly and promptly, and maintaining constant communication in real time. And similarly, when travel is necessary, we may keep in touch with our family without difficulty and extra expense.

Of course, it is true that telecommuting is not applicable to all companies and types of occupation. Still, there is no doubt that the technology offers benefits to all areas of work, both to those who can apply remote management tasks as well as those who dontt. Hand in hand with new tools and applications, business models continue to evolve and change the way we interact with our customers and develop our functions.

We must also take into account that the balance between our professional and personal life depends, ultimately, on ourselves. We can be at home or with our family, but that can go unnoticed by them if we are constantly attached to our computer or our mobile phone.

The truth is that this evolution in the workplace can benefit thousands of people, and it is time that companies evaluate the possibility of adopting procedures that enable staff to spend more time with their families and on their personal life staff without neglecting their work. There is no reason not to, and before long the benefits will be observable and greatly appreciated by employees and their families.

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