I hear people all the time talk about work-life balance but there is little agreement on what that means.
Balance is not static. What is considered work-life balance today may be different tomorrow, next week, next month or next year. You may put in 60+ hours for a while then wham! You get cancer. It will then look different, trust me. Or how about if you go from a two income household to a one income? Either of those scenarios will change the balance.
Everyone’s definition is different. This if very important when you are talking to other people or internalizing work-life balance. Just because Sam wants to only work 40 hours a week it does not mean that you have to. Nor do you need to do 60 hours a week just because Sally does.
Most people lie about it. People either tout all their time off and conveniently forget to mention the two Sunday afternoon conference calls they had or they brag about their long hours and neglect to mention that ten hours of those every week it at a restaurant. It is difficult to get a good read on what people really do with their time.
So when you are interviewing with a company don’t just ask “what does the work-life balance look like here,” but do ask questions that will give you that answer:
- What is an average day and week look like for you?
- Tell me about the toughest week you have had here.
- Does everyone keep the same hours?
- If I have a project I am working on is it alright to take it home, come in early or stay late to complete it?
You want to ask everyone you interview with some of these questions to get a sense of the culture around work-life balance. Maybe you get to bring your dog to work because they would die from neglect if they were left at home.
Nothing has any power over me other than that which I give it through my conscious thoughts.