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From time to time, I will check out Glassdoor employee reviews from my own workplace. I look at the overall reviews, then those specific to my location. I am never surprised by the broad range of opinions I see there. I work across several locations and with many different teams, and although there is a common thread in how we work, there are subtle differences due to different managers, different business strategies, and the nature of the work as it relates to achieving objectives.
In our factories, for example, it is not unusual to see an engineer say that work/life balance is not so good. If the machine is not running well, you get called in off hours. In our corporate locations, you might find more positive work/life balance points of view.
I don’t know when the words “work/life balance” entered our vocabulary, but my opinion is that it is not a corporate identity issue, it is a personal one.
I did the engineering job, and I got calls at 2 A.M. to come in and help solve a problem. Once, in fact, a plant manager called me at home, asked for my address, and told me he would be there in 10 minutes to pick me up. He was the manager on call that week, and decided that this one issue was going to be resolved under his guidance.
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And I found that energizing. My identity at the time was being built around solving operational problems. When one came up, it was another chance to learn more about the process and to improve the reliability numbers. That was my scorecard.
That was all before kids, but I haven’t had a job since that didn’t invade the off hours space. Or, more correctly, that I allow into that space. Sometimes I have to travel on a Sunday. Almost any weekday travel day is at least a 16 hour day. I will use an evening from time to time to catch up on email. And with our current technologies, there is rarely a time when I can’t be tracked down to answer one question or another, or be pulled into a new issue that can’t wait until tomorrow. Working on global scale as I sometimes do, it already is tomorrow in parts of the world.
As best as I understand the term, I have good work/life balance. I choose how much time and effort I put into my work. Every time I take a new job or a new assignment, I have an idea of what might be expected of the role I am to play.
We all have choices. Work is a part of our life, and it is up to us to determine how much we want to work. If you think your employer is demanding too much of your time or overloading you with work, you may have some decisions to make. If you spend even a minute of your time thinking that you don’t have good balance, then it is time to make different choices. It may not mean you have to change jobs, but you may have to change what you expect of yourself at work, in order to meet what you expect of yourself outside of work. Poor work/life balance means you are short-changing yourself to the benefit of your employer. And over time, everyone loses in that game.