Opinions expressed on this blog reflect the writer’s views and not the position of the Capgemini Group

Work life balance – is it really possible?

Category : Applications

If I’d been asked this question a couple of years ago, I’d have said no. I was very tired, run down, and had a pesky cough that wouldn’t go away. I wasn’t burnt out, but things needed to change.

I finally worked this out after I’d had a mild telling-off from my GP who told me to pace myself better, otherwise I’d get infection after infection. I’d been to see him about the cough. It was exactly what I need to hear…. and more importantly, take on board.

I had some days’ leave left over, which I had to “use or lose”, so I took every Friday off for a month. It was great. I started doing lots of yoga, I had a 3 day weekend, and I caught up on sleep. At that point in time, 2 years ago, I was not ready to change or reduce my working hours, as I felt I’d need to be available to take calls on my non working days.

It’s taken me a while to work through the pros and cons of flexible working and more importantly, what would work for me.

My employer, Capgemini is very understanding, and offers a number of options, including  the option to buy up to 10 days’ additional holiday, through the flexible benefits scheme.

For the last couple of years I’ve taken this up and really valued the extra days. I’ve also had the time to think about part time working and how I could make it work for me, and equally importantly, for Capgemini.

I also talked to colleagues who work part time. They are all very happy with their working patterns, and they had also some very good advice, including ….

Start as you mean to go on – if you are ok being contactable, great. But if you choose not be contactable on your non working day, which is a choice that the employee makes, not the company, then start as you mean to go on, and don’t be contactable. Sounds obvious, really, but for me, it needed spelling out.

Be focused and don’t procrastinate on your working days. For me, this meant getting even the smaller things done at the time – answering that email, setting up that meeting, finishing odds and ends off. My working days are longer, but it means I can switch off on the non working day.

Be flexible – the arrangement has to work for me, and for Capgemini. If you need to attend a workshop or a meeting on your non working day, then work on that day and take a day off some other time.

If you need to take a call on the non working day, work on that day. It’s surprising how the prep for the call, and the call itself take over the day, so you may as well work. I’ve tried it, and this one is definitely the case.

It’s a learning curve – it takes a while to adjust to the new pattern – and to stop feeling guilty about switching off on the non working day.

At the start of this year, I talked to my manager, who was very understanding, and we worked out an arrangement for me to change my working pattern to 4 days per week, in a way that works for me and for the company.

My new working pattern started at the beginning of March, so I’m a couple of months in. It’s great to have a 3 day weekend, and on Mondays, I’m more refreshed and have more energy and enthusiasm for the week ahead. Early days, and so far so good.

About the author

Anne Cave-Penney

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