To quote America’s former President, Barack Obama, “Most of our days consist of work, family and not much else. When we’re with our family, sometimes we’re thinking about work and when we’re at work, we’re thinking about family.” Here, Jonathan Wilkins, left, marketing director at obsolete parts supplier, EU Automation, explains how increased connectivity is enabling workers to improve their work-life balance.
In the 2016 Staples Business Advantage Workplace Index, 22 per cent of those surveyed admitted to having changed jobs due to problems with their work-life balance. However, there are now a plethora of communication platforms that are simple and affordable to use and workers can have collaborative access to files, documents, software and meetings.
These technological advancements have changed the way professionals work, resulting in a shift in their work-life balance towards a greater focus on personal lives without compromising work commitments.
The globalisation of supply chains has led to a requirement for effective communication and collaboration across long distances and often across different time zones.
The improved connectivity enables workers to achieve this. For example, they can have meetings with clients and colleagues in different countries using video conferencing software such as Skype. These capabilities reduce the frequency of travel for workers, so they do not have to leave homes, families and friends for long periods of time.
Remote working is now a more feasible option thanks to the increased connectivity that is occurring as the Internet of Things (IoT) progresses. Workers can do everything they would normally do in the office, but from any location using any device. This means they can visit clients’ offices or job sites without ceasing communication with colleagues. As a result, workers are less likely to have to work extra hours to catch up on what they missed while out of the office.
Remote working also allows more employees to work from home. Working from home also opens more options for workers to fit exercise, social time and other appointments into their schedule. Another reason for the popularity of working from home is the increasing traffic on the roads and the increased number of people living a long distance from the office. They can work from home to avoid the commute when traffic or weather would make the journey longer than usual.
Moreover, studies have shown that working from home makes people more productive. Therefore, remote working can benefit whole businesses in addition to improving the staff work-life balance.
Robots lending a helping hand
There is widespread fear over the possibility of job losses as robots become more commonplace in factories. The truth of the matter is that robots will not replace humans’ jobs, but will have a positive impact on the work-life balance of the workforce.
For example, by delegating physical, strenuous tasks to robots, the human workforce can reduce injuries and stay in good health for longer. As a result, they will be better able to enjoy their free time and work until a later age, helping them to secure a good pension.
Furthermore, automated equipment can run processes through the nights and weekends. This means human workers do not have to work as many unsociable hours.
Barack Obama’s vision was to improve people’s work-life balance by enabling them to focus on both work and family without making sacrifices. The technology that Industry 4.0 has introduced has altered the routines of workers across all sectors, shifting the balance between work and personal lives and helping to bring Obama’s vision into reality.