By Dorri Agostini
It was 4.45 am on Saturday 28th February and my friend Juliet and I have arrived at the Trinidad Yacht Club. Armed with water, wine, sandwiches and suntan lotion, we met the Captain and Crew of the Cherrios to embark on a day of fishing along the North Coast of Trinidad. Both apprehensive and excited, we set off on our adventure before sunrise, soaking in the view of the shore, alit with street lights. Even before we reached the North Coast, the sun had begun stretching its arms, creating beautiful shades of pink and orange against the blue sky.
As I soaked in the beauty unfolding, a feeling of complete relaxation overtook me. There was no phone, internet or other communication connections. I had to let go of all responsibilities …. activities unfinished, emails unanswered, calls from family and friends … all had to wait. I had escaped! Was I finally achieving some semblance of an appropriate work-life balance?
Over the past year I enjoyed the opportunity to perform the duties of the Resource Planner & Administrator while still managing some of my previous functions. With a strong desire to succeed, I developed the habit of consistently working long hours and, as evidenced by the receipt of emails from many colleagues at various times of the night and early morning, I was not alone. Our work at the IDB is, for many, much more than just a job and I sincerely congratulate the IDB for developing such a motivated workforce.
But are we (the workforce) really providing our best to this organization or any other organization that we may work for? Studies have shown that a good work-life balance is required to work at our optimum. Some downtime is indispensable to maintain an optimal level of productivity. In addition, several studies also indicate that poor health, increase in stress levels and heart disease, can be linked to consistently working long hours. Therefore, for the many of us who work consistently beyond the 40-hour work week, are we really being more productive? Is this sacrifice to our personal well-being, inclusive of our family and social life, worth it? Are we achieving what we set out to do?
Many organizations have equipped its workforce with tools to carry out their responsibilities from anywhere. One suggested way to achieve a better work-life balance is to take advantage of new working modality opportunities which are gaining popularity e.g. working from home. Though this sounds a bit counter-intuitive, working from home provides benefits to both the organization (lower overhead costs) and the workforce (more relaxed atmosphere and less interruptions leading to greater productivity).
Now back to my fishing escape … it’s approximately 6.30 pm and we have returned to the Yacht club with our catch (2 Wahoo, 1 Mahi-Mahi, and 1 Marlin). The Captain, turning on the music, invites all to join in some celebratory drinks. Slightly burnt, a little tired but immensely happy I turn to Juliet and toast her birthday – in reality this day was a gift to both of us.
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