I've read and listened to a few articles recently which mention the whole work-life balance thing - possibly because we're smack bang in the middle of the summer holidays!
As a firm we've never offered flexi-time, and for most staff this hasn't been an issue. We've only ever had one staff member even ask about it. We have staff who are local to the offices, so travelling isn’t so much of an issue, but we do finish early on a Friday - nice to avoid some of the weekend rush hour!
That's not to say we're not flexible in other ways - we don't have any issues with staff needing time off for doctors/dentists etc or for other issues. We've granted a few last minute holiday requests so that staff can go and see their kids in Christmas plays or sports days (no chance of them being rained off this year!)
Technology has changed the way we think about businesses and how they are able to operate - most have the capability of being fully functioning organisations 24/7 if they want to be (although a lot of caffeine might be needed!) - this has its good points and it's pitfalls.
Gone are the days of 9-5 working, with more and more businesses opening longer hours, into the evenings and weekends. I also find that a lot of clients want answers instantly now, with emails and phone calls being the normal method of communicating. Where have the client requests by letter gone? At least you had a couple of days grace to reply (blaming the poor old Royal Mail in the process!)
We have a number of clients who can only do their paperwork for their business once they've done their day job, so we frequently get emails whilst we are out of the office. In times gone by I wouldn’t have even seen these emails until I'd gone into the office the following day, but now, thanks to my trusty work phone and/or laptop not only can I see these emails, but I'm also able to respond to them.
I do have cut off limits though. Very rarely will I send an email past 8pm, even if I've had one from a client, as I need some wind down time. Also, in the mornings I tend to save emails to my draft folder and then send them later on so as not to disturb clients too early - you never know what time they're up and about!
Becoming a mum made me rethink my work-life balance, I'd be lying if I said otherwise.
Once our little man arrived I had 8 months of just family life and it was great – I was ready for it. Even just not having my BlackBerry took a load off my mind and allowed me to focus on friends and family, including the most recent addition! But then I had another swing, I missed work and wanted to further my career.
I've found that since becoming a Mum I try my best to get everything done during normal hours - I like to think I'm more efficient, but not sure what others would say about that one! That's not to say I won't send the occasional e-mail from my phone or check something for a client on the weekend, but I leave at 5 without question, and make a point of not working whilst on holiday or with family.
That's my time, our time, and I think it's important for clients and staff to understand that.
There's not many queries I get out of hours which can't wait until the following morning - luckily accountancy and tax aren't life threatening careers!!
Since becoming a director I wanted to carry that mentality on and yet 4 months in I am realising that there are just not enough hours in the day to do my day job, manage and promote a business and enjoy quality time with my family and friends.
There's so much behind the scenes work which isn't billable and so it's just not justifiable to do it during working hours. Putting together staff appraisals packs, our own accounts, amending engagement letters, blogging! Yes we could pay someone to do this work for us, and maybe one day we will but for now it's not feasible.
So, laptops have been purchased and we've each decided to take some of this work home with us. For now my time is confined to the mornings before work. Before our son gets up and at a time when I'm normally in bed so hopefully my husband doesn't feel like I'm bringing too much of the office home!