Thursday, September 17, 2009

Balancing work, time off and leisure.

Post 327 - More and more progressive companies now recognize that providing employees with opportunities for a more balanced life provides a competitive advantage in hiring and retaining the best talent worldwide. For example, Novo Nordisk, a Danish company that's leader in diabetes care (with almost 4,000 employees in the US) spells out its philosophy as follows:

"A job with us is never just a job. We want to be there for our customers – and with that aim we want to attract and retain the best employees by making Novo Nordisk a leader in challenging places to work.

In addition to working in a job that makes a difference to our patients, you can also be sure that we are working to ensure that you can maintain a natural balance between work and leisure time. A balance that ensures you have a full life packed with enjoyment and fulfillment both at work and at home. You should always have sufficient time for family, friends and the work we give you.

As more and more people are finding that the boundaries between work and leisure are increasingly dissolving, we have introduced flexitime arrangements in many places, including the opportunity to work from home via an ADSL connection – which we pay for. Flexitime gives you greater influence on when you would like to work during the day – this can be an advantage, especially if you have children."

And you can find many more examples of progressive policies these days. I hope you work in such a company. However, a question you don't hear much about is the the difference between time off from work and leisure time. What exactly is leisure? Passivity isn't leisure; neither is receptivity nor a mere taking in. Leisure isn't the opposite of activity, productivity, or work. Rather, leisure is the right balance between give and take, between work and rest, and it can therefore be achieved in work as well as in rest. As the balance between work and rest, according to Brother David Steindl-Rast O.S.B., it's the opposite of idleness and it's the basis from which good work starts and grows.

He goes on to add, "We might say that leisure is the beginning of all virtues in the sense that it's an inner attitude of openness and trust. Its characteristics are 'taking it easy' rather than 'keeping busy,' of 'allowing things to happen,' not 'keeping things under control.' Trust is necessary, because we can only let things happen if we believe that things will work out all right, that events and circumstances and things and situations come from a source that wants our good ... Thus, leisure is the basis for a full awareness, for as long as we pick and choose we limit our horizons. And, to the degree to which our awareness is increased, our aliveness is increased. That is what leisure is – the amount of our aliveness."

As the author, Bonnie Friedman, reminds us, "An unhurried sense of time is in itself a form of wealth."

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