I read a great CIM blog post this week that really resonated with me – particularly having a new business and a new family member to take care of – about maintaining the work-life balance.

It got me thinking about how, as event professionals and marketers, do we balance home and office, family and colleagues, play and work? It’s certainly not easy, but more and more we are being told that it’s not only healthier it’s good for business too.

Working as a professional in events for the past 20 years, particularly now with my own businesses, one thing I do know is it can certainly be extremely hard to switch off, and it’s an industry with a 24/7 mentality and one that is fiercely competitive. So is it really ok to take your foot off the ball for a second without fear of someone else stepping in to snatch it all away from you? Absolutely!

Do you really need to be working day and night to get ahead? Absolutely not!

Being a new mum, it’s vital for me that I have the time and the space to establish my new family and unit without the pressure to return to freelancing as soon as I can. That pressure by the way that can force a lot of new mums to take the decision not to return to work at all. I know, I listen to mums daily in the coffee shops and playgroups.

Business is making huge strides in the way it can make it easier for people to find that work-life balance, however, there is so much more that can be done.

In CIM’s post Olgivy & Mather’s chief marketing officer (CMO) Nina Jasinksi, was adamant that it is a boss’s responsibility “to encourage people to find the space to live normal lives, whether they have families or not”. This I certainly agree with as work culture and attitude is absolutely passed down from the top, and this is discussed regularly when we speak about motivating our teams to achieve.

It can sometimes make team members feel uncomfortable to leave the office on time and at the end of their day if their boss or line manager is still sat in theirs. I’ve worked in many a venue or hotel were it was the norm to stay late as it was perceived that you were more ‘committed’ to the job if you put in the extra hours, but is it?

We’re all guilty of it or have been at one point in our careers. I once had a manager who would make everyone work that extra half an hour each day, simply because in their mind it looked better to not be running out of the office at 5.30pm, it looks better if you leave after 6!

You may be perceived to be working harder but are you really working efficiently and being truly productive if you have to continually work longer hours? One thing to also consider is if it’s a work load problem are you really doing yourself any favours staying behind extra hours to finish tasks, should you not be encouraging your boss to take on additional team members and support? After all, if you finish the tasks then it will only be perceived that you are managing your workload, efficiently or not.

Recent studies have actually found some part-time and flexible workers – those that can work remotely – more productive than their full-time and office based counterparts, with many successfully managing to fit full-time schedules into a three or four day week and balancing time on the job and diaries more effectively to ensure this is achieved. There has even been suggestion over the years that a four day week and three day weekend would result in a more efficient, productive and happier workforce, wouldn’t we all want that? Who really is 100% committed to doing work on POETS day anyway?

One advancement that we embrace daily into our lives and that could easily assist us in our path to work-life balance is technology. Now this can be perceived in two ways. There are some who would argue that technological advances mean they are now contactable anytime, and anywhere, and this makes it even more difficult to escape and switch off.

My answer to the anytime problem is simple, do the latter, switch off your smartphones and blackberries outside of the office or normal working hours – unless you are on call and someone’s life may depend on you answering your phone, which as event professionals, no matter how important you may perceive your position and role to be, it does not – or switch on do not disturb, most new smartphones have that functionality.

Let’s also consider anywhere. This to me is a plus as it simply means you can work anywhere, you don’t have to be in an office under someone’s nose to do your job and carry out your role. My role allows me the flexibility to work from my home, from a co-workspace, coffee shop, venue, hotel, on-site at an event or anywhere in the world, and I have equipped myself with the tools to do this. I do not need to be in the office with my clients for them to see my worth and value as I work hard to build an element of trust into those relationships, simply by being good at my job and getting things done.

Which brings me onto my next point. The best relationships are built on trust, compromise and communication, this also applies to the boss-employee, client-freelancer relationship, and as managers we should have trust that our teams have the autonomy to carry out their roles efficiently whether they are sat directly by our sides or on the other side of the world.

The right answer to the work-life balance will in my mind always be a complex one, as it simply comes down to the attitudes, mindsets, and the personal needs of each of us as individuals and those close to us, and importantly how we prioritise our time. The clue to achieving this for yourself though is in the name, balance, as long as you don’t put too much pressure on yourself and can look at your current situation and that balance exists, then you’re halfway there at least.

Nina Jasinksi sums it up perfectly for me “The idea about having it all is a myth. And if you convince yourself that you can, you’ll end up feeling guilty when things don’t work out. My advice is to be realistic, compromise and be the best that you can be at that moment.”

I wanted to leave you with a statement that I’ve had in my mind for the past few years whilst I’ve been on my little ‘life creation’ journey – “Don’t be so busy making money, that you forget to make a life”.

Until next time #eventprofs…