People often ask me how I maintain a healthy balance between work and play. How is it possible for me to oversee a global brand and invest in new companies, yet still find time to kitesurf every day? For one, I’ve never really thought of work and life as separate. My work is my life, and vice versa. Having said that, I know what it’s like when the balance between work and life tips too much towards the former and we find ourselves working through the night and over the weekends.
Feeling overworked is not good for you and has a negative impact on your health and happiness. But if you can find a career you are passionate about, working hard doesn’t have to ever become a chore. Work is where you spend roughly 80% of your life. If finding a job you love means you need to take a pause from your current career to think about what excites you and then take a leap of faith, it will be well worth it in the long run.
Of course, it should be no surprise that I’ve always lived the ‘work hard, play hard’ philosophy, but I do believe this is one of the best ways to achieve balance. Even if you have a busy career, it doesn’t mean you can’t live your life to the fullest. Prioritize time with your family and friends, shut off your phone and completely disconnect when you can; put it in your work calendar as you would for a meeting. Turn on your out of office alert – I had mine on around my birthday. When on the job, socialise with your workmates. We’ve always encouraged parties at Virgin because in our experience, as a result, employees arrive to work feeling like they are part of a team, and they are more likely to see their colleagues as friends.
It’s also promising to see many companies revolutionising the way they think about work/life balance. We can’t always be in the office, so companies are exploring new ways of working since some of the best ideas can come from relaxing under a palm tree. It’s something we are fully embracing at Virgin Management, introducing flexible working and experimenting with unlimited leave. It’s all about recognising that the ‘9-5’ workday is no longer set-in-stone. It starts with trust – give your employees the freedom to choose where and when they need to work and they will repay your belief in them tenfold.