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The ‘always on’ work culture – learn to say ‘when’

Mobile technology and increasing flexibility with regards to when and where we work has many advantages. But how do we protect personal well-being and leverage true work-life balance?

​​​​Fully mobile technology and increasing flexibility with regards to when and where we work has many advantages. But in order to protect personal well-being and leverage true work-life balance there are a number of key principles that need to be promoted and adopted in order to avoid negative stress, demotivation, burn-out and ultimately significant productivity losses.

​In Germany alone we see a steep increase in work related health problems. In recent years mental exhaustion and related psychological illnesses have marched up to take the silver medal in health related reasons for absence. This is especially significant as mental illness takes much longer recovery times as most physical once and leave employees potentially never able to full potential ever again!  Other developed economies face similar challenges. This is often directly linked to the increasing and merciless cost pressures organization​​s are facing in our volatile and highly competitive environment. Technology enables us to work at unsurpassed speed. Decisions need to be made in uncertainty and within seconds. Many companies are down-sizing, expecting higher levels of profitability with fewer people – the term ‘job densification’ is taking human capital to the limit of what is humanly possible. In a unbiquous desire to get more out of people it is seriously worth focusing on simple yet complex issues such as mental and physical health of the individuals that deliver shareholder value on a daily basis.  

So here are some key thoughts and principles worth keeping in mind (yet to be completed):

  • Leadership needs to lead by example (sending emails at the weekend and never really being ‘away’ drives a culture of presenteism (physical and virtual) that is a serious health risk)

  • Shape the job to love what you do (this is a serious ask for HR to think and act creatively about ‘job design’ rather than ‘job description’

  • Make technology an integral part of switching off (this requires especially IT to be mindful of equipment, default settings, connectivity, etc.)

  • Educate and coach management to give space and freedom and the ability to lead remotely and by objectives 

  • Encourage and celebrate ‘balance’ success stories  (e.g.
    the UNICEF Tap Project donated water for every minute we did not use our mobile phones, link the OFF button to a cause for society)

  • Provide incentives and facilities for sport, meditation, yoga etc. and establish a reward system for hours dedicated to health & well-being.

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About Claudia

Claudia Hamm is the Head of Workplace Strategy EMEA for JLL and chair of its Global Workplace Board. Her responsibilities include coaching and enabling the firm’s rapidly growing Workplace & Change Management practice.

Claudia has over 15 years of experience in business development, organisational change and communications, working across the US, UK and Germany. She is particularly interested in the behavioural and leadership changes required to create smarter organisations, and in how the appropriate physical and virtual environment can secure and accelerate future business success.

At the heart of that interest is how, thanks to today's technological advances, we can now truly give people the opportunity to combine an executive career with a fulfilling family life. She is a firm believer in agile, non-territorial working, based on a more outcome-oriented and connected work philosophy.

It's a philosophy that she puts into practice herself: no office or desk to call her own or put family pictures on, but rarely ever missing a soccer game or theatre performance.