Balancing Act: The workplace challenges of 2013

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When I look at the year in review, I see a continued struggle for work-life balance exemplified by a question I raised in a recent column: What is an average work week?

For those of us with anything beyond the most basic level of responsibility, most agree that a 9-to-5 work day no longer is a reality. Many of us feel like we're "always on." The technology that brings our home life into our workplace and our jobs into our homes presents opportunities and challenges.

One area of challenge arises from where we do our work. Can people be as productive at home as they are in the office? And, aren't most of us working from places outside the traditional workspace at least some of the time?

After a multitude of conversations with experts and employees, I've come to believe that the best workplaces strike a happy medium -- allowing workers to come to the office some of the time but also manage their own schedules.

Another challenge involves the technology we use to do our work. As more employers embrace the Bring Your Own Device movement, questions abound over whether we are ready for the heated issues cropping up such as our expectation of privacy and what happens if there's a security breach.

Some see opportunity in blurred boundaries between work and personal life, hence the working vacation. The new guilt-free vacation centers on knowing when to check in and field calls and when to disconnect.

Lastly, I must point out that the Family Medical Leave Act celebrated its 20th year in existence in 2013. In our struggle to balance our family lives and our work lives, it is the one law that has made a giant difference for 35 million American workers. It's been a godsend for those of us who want time to bond with our newborn, care for an aging parent or deal with a health emergency without the fear of losing our jobs. But FMLA does not guarantee time off with pay, and some of those who need it can't afford to use it. Those involved in the passage of FMLA say they are pushing forward on the next step -- federal legislation that would expand eligibility to more of the workforce and introduce a nationwide paid family leave. I hope the men and women of this country understand how vital this is for all workers and push for change.


Cindy Krischer Goodman, CEO of BalanceGal LLC, can be reached at balancegal@gmail.com.

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