Finding The Right Balance Between Home And The Office

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May 1, 2012

In mid-April, COO of Facebook Sheryl Sandberg sent ripples through the tech community when she said in an interview that she typically leaves the office at 5:30 p.m. In an industry where constant innovation is crucial to survival, this mentality is more than a little unorthodox. But in offices across the country, leaving on the dot at 5 is seemingly raising more eyebrows these days. Instead of the age-old clock-in, clock-out routine, being “on call,” like many professionals in the medical and legal industries, has spread like wildfire to the business community. We are in an era where work not only follows us home, it often interrupts dinner, cancels date night, or sleeps over in the form of a company-issued cell phone or laptop computer.

While Sandberg’s lofty position at Facebook (and previously at Google) allows her to spend evenings with family, many employees, especially those without a spouse or children, may feel as though they have to work longer hours to ascend the corporate hierarchy. No matter the circumstances, in the interest of equality, employees should all have the same end-of-day options. So, what steps can you take to achieve a balanced work to home ratio?

First, you need to make sure that hours spent in the office are maximized for production – chances are, they currently aren’t. Try blocking out your day; how many hours are spent on conference calls? How long does it take to reply to emails? How long is your typical lunch? When you have a good idea about how your day is spent make a new schedule, one that includes work time and home time, and stick to it. When you come home from work, be home. Make dinner, play with the kids. No matter your profession, or your position within that profession, it’s vital to allow yourself time for activities outside of the office. Budgeting time effectively (and perhaps cutting back on Facebook) can help maximize your production and move you one step closer to getting out the door at a reasonable hour.