Work-Life Integration –Happy Work! Happy Life!

Today we share an inspiring work-life story from Laura Meyer.  Laura’s article presents in real sense what work-life integration means in a global work environment like IBM.

Imagine! A little over two years ago I was in New York City working almost full-time and attending night classes to complete my MBA. I was a wreck, stuffing my face with whatever takeout available at 10:30/11:00pm, while trying to complete assignments and rollover at 5:30/6am to grab the L train into work (from Brooklyn to Manhattan). There was no work-life balance nor could I create it in my schedule. There was nothing I could drop or quit, and it was miserable. Even when I was achieving great results on paper, my friends and family can attest it brought out the worst in me.

lm.JPGFast forward to today, I’m a Client Executive to Apple, living in San Francisco and commuting to the South Bay. Every day varies, but it’s because of IBM that I have the best work-life balance, health and happiness to date. Some might attribute it to California living, but it’s truly the remote and client on-site working that IBM respects, that I attribute to my better standard of living.

In general, gone are the raccoon eyes, the over-caffeinated haze and overall extreme anxiety levels. My average weekly schedule today consists of one day in the office, three days at the client site and one day at home. Because of the heavy commute, I also manage my schedule and commute to Apple around the traffic, so I’m working the most and commuting the least. Our team is still hustling with the same intensity in showcasing products, delivering solutions, solving problems and managing our overall relationship, but the respect for work-life balance has allowed us to optimize our work and time we invest.

While I don’t have children, the additional time I get back is used for additional work on projects, learning, working out, being outdoors and being with the people I love. I tend to manage my day in sprints. On a client site day, I start with a 2-hr sprint of work from home, drive to Apple (take conference calls or listen to a tech podcast), sprint through meetings, networking, and sending emails at Apple’s campus, return home (more conference calls), workout (if I haven’t in the morning), make dinner, and another sprint of work in the evening. I try to work when I have the highest energy and break it up so I’m moving and getting things done. This flexibility has increased my productivity and allows me to fit in a very active lifestyle.

Every company does not value or provide work-life balance opportunities or programs, and I know this after years of work in New York City and listening to the complaints from friends at startups here in the Bay Area. Because of smartphones and work-life integration, there is a sense of always working. However, the sprint model has helped me sustain momentum and take care of myself, while allowing me to produce better work than ever.

We know work-life needs vary, based on our life and career stages but whatever challenge you face, IBM has a program, webinar and resource to help manage your life outside of work a little easier. Here are some of IBM offerings available to help meet Work-Life balance.

  • Flexible Work Options (FWO)s: available to assist employees in balancing their responsibilities with work, family, education, and other personal needs.  IBM offers seven different FWOs to choose from as suitable for the job role and in approval with the manager.
  • Dependent Care Programs: a “multimillion” and “multi-year” fund designed to address strategic work-life challenges for IBM employees worldwide, focusing on dependent care.  With this fund we strive to get quality and affordable childcare and elder care programs for employees worldwide like Child Care Center tie ups, Vacation Camps, Lactation Rooms, Educational programs, etc.
  • Care General: web-based care management tool designed to simplify and coordinate the care process for family caregivers.
  • Global dependent care programs:online resources to support child and elder care needs, they are available to employees regardless of where they live and work, for example: I Believe in Math: Help your preschool and/or school-age child engage in and enjoy math!
  • Webinars on work-life topics: Recorded sessions from leading subject matter experts on a variety of work-life topics.  For example:   Stress Management interactive webinar and discussion guide to help you recognize personal stressors and the qualities and value of resiliency for effective coping.

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