We’ve all heard of the industrial revolution and what an amazing step forward it was for mankind; increased productivity and a big boom for the capitalist world we still live in today. Thankfully, recent times and younger generations are taking a stance and demanding more from their lives than the ‘living to work’ mentality previously dominating. There is an increased push for better conditions, a value being put on the culture and respect received from a workplace and most importantly the benefits of an adequate work-life balance. An increasing number of countries (including the UK) are getting on board with the concept of a 4-day work week following studies that show potential for this to lead to an increase in productivity. With such a high number of the population forced to work from home during the ongoing Covid 19 pandemic, many businesses have seen first-hand the value derived by their employees from increased flexibility and a decrease in commute times and early mornings.
Some industries, including manufacturing, have not been as lucky in being able to move to working remotely or from home. For those that make up essential services, including healthcare workers, some retail staff, and teachers, is has been mostly business as usual regardless of the growing numbers of cases. Not to mention the increase in demand and higher levels of risk, particularly with our frontline/healthcare workers. We have recently entered our third year of this global pandemic and for many there seems to be no end in sight. With that comes added work related stresses and world related anxiety making the call for a generous work-life balance higher than ever before.
With so many of our usual supply chains and trade arrangements not at full capacity due to unwell workers and social distancing regulations, the pressure has been increased on many within the manufacturing industry. Demand patterns for most countries have undeniably changed, with higher requirements from local manufacturers over international due to the limitations brought on by the pandemic. The outrage of the public surrounding this shortage of a number of products has been widespread and often vented through the media, however this is unlikely to change in the immediate future.
Despite many shortages both locally and internationally, some industries are obviously still booming as a result of the pandemic. Medical equipment sales are at an all-time high as every healthcare provider fights to save as many lives as possible. These sales aren’t limited to the expected such as ventilators and testing supplies, we have also seen a drastic increase in demand for items such as the humble air compressor which is used in conjunction with ventilation equipment. It is no surprise that the manufacturing of items in reduced demand, such as bariatric equipment has taken a back seat in an attempt to further support the fight against Covid 19. This intense pressure to meet the needs of the world has no doubt impacted the capability of our workers to achieve the desired level of work life balance.
Once the world gets back to normal (a state that continues to allude us almost 2 years into this pandemic), it is likely we will find people even more focused on achieving a balance between the time they spend at their job and the time they spend doing leisure activities. Regardless of what industry we work in, this life changing experience has altered many people’s priorities and has increased our awareness of our own mortality. For many this has meant uprooting their lives and doing the things that they’ve been putting off until they have enough time. This kind of attitude has undeniably been driven by the belief that work is of higher importance than whatever outside activity or life decision we might be leaning towards. Due to the restrictions and the anxieties that go with that, some are seeing this as a wakeup call to change careers. The aim is to prioritise their lives outside of the workforce over a potential career. Many are hopeful that this will leave employers with no choice but to adapt to this post Covid world and meet their employees halfway.
For many a work life balance is heavily tied to their family life. For those that embark on the adventure of having children, this can mean both extra work but also a crisis of time management. Parents are often finding themselves wishing they had more time with their children. Regardless of the family dynamic, whether that is a single parent or a two working parent household, finding that balance between being earning a living and being there for all the big milestones is especially tough. With the help of the local nanny recruitment agency or childcare provider, many parents are able to maintain a full-time job. However, it is arguable that their day doesn’t end when they walk in the door from their shift at work due to the time missed with their children. There are ongoing debates and plenty of discontent surrounding the 40-hour work week. Many argue that this was brought about in a time where one wage could support the whole house where we now see the requirement for 2 full time workers if parents want to provide any luxuries. This debate is furthered when it is noted that males are afforded substantially less leave opportunities and within the workplace it is expected women will be the primary caregiver. There is a great deal of hope for a future that affords more time for parents to spend time with their families without having to struggle financially.
The future still seems a little scary for us all – not just due to Covid. As we move to accept and do what we can to combat the inevitable destruction of the precious resources we rely so heavily on, it is time we checked our priorities. Whether you bake bread, run the world or provide an air compressor service, maintaining your work-life balance is paramount and we should all be working towards ensuring we get the most out of our personal lives.