VIEWS: Finding Work-Life Balance

I've been thinking a lot about work-life balance lately, both in a personal and professional sense. There's just something about the start of the New Year that makes me take stock. This year in particular, I'm inspired to do more at work (SSC's new "webinars" are my latest endeavor) AND take more time for myself (I've made a commitment with a good friend to visit a museum once a month). But I'm finding that there's rarely enough time to do both.

I'm not the only one struggling with work-life balance, but at least it looks like more workers are getting the chance to take an active role in the endeavor. According to a recent Inc article:

More professionals are finding a way to achieve work-life balance without giving up pay…Seeking a better work-life balance, more and more mid- and senior-level professional women are successfully negotiating flexible work schedules without cutting back income.

And it looks like women are particularly benefiting from flexible work arrangements:

Of more than 400 female workers polled nationwide, more than 90 percent said they have opted for flexible work arrangements at some point in their careers, including telecommuting, flexible hours, or simply limiting tasks that require working evenings or travel. A full 88 percent said flexible work arrangements allowed them to continue working full-time despite managing complex personal lives.

It's not just low-paying work, either. About 85 percent of the survey's respondents were responsible for at least half of their household incomes.

But it's not all sunbeams and roses for women seeking work-life balance. According to a recent Catalyst survey:

…while approximately one in four lawyers in law firms report having used a flexible work arrangement, the majority of those surveyed see it as a career limiting move. More than half of the female lawyers surveyed believed that their use of flexible work arrangements limited their professional development and made them appear less committed to their firms, versus 21 per cent of men who used the same arrangements.

What's the message? While we're increasingly seeing employers offer flexible working arrangements—and employees are jumping to take advantage of them, the long-term career impacts are still in doubt. But that doesn't mean it's not worth exploring now!

…more than 60 percent of the survey's respondents said they were more loyal to employers offering flexible schedules, telecommutes, and other options.