When I worked in visual effects – creating cool stuff for film and television – I loved my job. I really did. It. Was. Awesome.
But sometimes… I wished I didn’t have to love it that much for that many hours in a row. The hours could be pretty rough, leaving little time for a life outside of work. It’s not just in that field. Something seems a bit wrong with our work-life balance. And looking at any given work day, I could see lots of wasted time in the office.
What if there were another way? Wouldn’t it be lovely to really maximize the productivity of the time we spend at work, and not waste an extra minute there that we could be investing at home in our families instead? This is particularly noticeable when you’re a parent. As a mom, I really have to be picky about how I spend my time, both at work and with my daughter. But work-life balance isn’t just for parents. What about people who have elderly parents to care for, or spend time volunteering, or simply have a rich life of hobbies outside of work?
Not only do these other activities enrich the fabric of society, I would argue that they contribute to the person’s ability to work. If somebody has a band they want to practice and perform with, that creative outlet makes them a happier person, who has renewed energy when they get to the office. On top of that, I truly believe such outside activities can open up our thought process and help us come up with better ideas at work.
And it seems like for years now, every other day I’d see news articles shared on social media talking about the ills of long work days and the concept of a shorter work week. (Side note: a lot of these talked about an 8 hour day being long. And my VFX friends and I would go, “8 hours? I wish!” In fields like computer animation or high tech, 10 hours are standard and additional hours are common and expected.) In addition to shorter work days, flexible work situations – working from home and even job sharing – are quite possible and come in handy, whether you’re a working parent or just an individual with a lot going on besides work.
Now that I have my own company, I will try to put these ideas into practice in our work culture here at Shmonster. Granted, I’ve only just started, so it’s hard to say how it’ll go. But I’m confident that we, as a culture, can put our overall well being above the notion that spending a maximum amount of hours at an office proves that we are hard workers. It doesn’t. Sometimes you can get more done in less time, if you work smarter and focus and are really careful about time management. And any parent can tell you, there’s nothing like taking care of kids to make you really, really focus when you finally have half an hour to yourself to get some stuff done.