A recent YouGov survey commissioned by Virgin revealed how much our lives are dictated by work, with nearly half (47 per cent) of full-time employees saying their current job has a positive impact on their home life…
Of those, 10 per cent of workers said work had a very positive impact on their home life while 37 per cent said it had a fairly positive affect. Only 4 per cent of the respondents felt it has a very negative impact.
The study also revealed the importance of getting on with fellow employees as 22 per cent of respondents, the second highest, revealed they spend most of their time with work colleagues. 43 per cent spend most of their time with their partner but if you’re yet to find that special someone then it’s more than likely you’ll be spending the majority of your time with work colleagues.
All this research has left us pondering the question - how much are our lives dictated by work? And how can we remain positive if the going gets tough?
Firstly, it’s important to remain passionate about work
Thao Dang, Founder of Thaoski, knows only too well about how lives can be dictated by work. She gave up her day job to take a personal project full-time and she hasn’t looked back since. "If what you do for work is aligned with your passions or if it’s something you strongly believe, it’s really easy to change your lifestyle to suit your work," she told Virgin.
"For example, I was employed and bored with my job. I knew I wanted to create a platform that showcase real love stories - it’s called A Love Collection - around the world to expand people’s perception about love. I set a challenge to film 100 love stories, across 25 countries within three years.
"To achieve this goal I had to flip my world and my work upside down. I resigned from my job and now I live out of a suitcase. I travel the world working on personal branding projects in Asia and Europe and I capture love stories along the way. You could say, my work dictates my lifestyle but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve never been happier. When you’re emotionally aligned with your work, everything becomes easier."
Does it really matter who we spend our time with?
Well yes, as the research shows… With 22 per cent of respondents revealing they spend most of their time with work colleagues, second in the standings behind partners, the working environment has become an important aspect of employee wellbeing. After all, a happy vibe is a productive workplace, right?
And if so many people choose to spend their time with their colleagues, it again shows how much our lives are dictated by work. Compare that with the five per cent of respondents who spend most of their time with their friends, and it looks like the workplace wins.
Although the figure was consistent across men and women, there was a variation of results when it came to age groups. Not surprisingly, 37 per cent of 18-24-year-olds spend more time with their colleagues compared to 13 per cent with their partner.
However, for those over the age of 55, they revealed they spend more than half (58 per cent) of their time with their partner compared to the four per cent they send with their friends - yet they still spend 11 per cent of their time with work colleagues. The social side of work plays an essential role, as the research shows. As we spend more of our time at work, and with the working environment constantly changing, work will only dictate our lives even more.
The role of flexible working
Though I’m sure there’s plenty of the UK workforce who are still working the traditional nine to five shift, it’s something of a rarity today as flexible working and freelancing increases in popularity. A Jobsite survey revealed 66 per cent of UK workers aim to take advantage of the new flexible working legislation that came into play last year.
Employees now have the right to request flexible working, regardless of dependents, providing they’ve been an employee for at least 26 weeks. It’s got its financial benefits, too. The Centre for Economics and Business Research recently conducted a study that revealed "greater flexible working could add £11.5 billion annually to the UK economy".
Flexible working continues to play a role in the development of the working environment, giving employees the option to work flexibility has the potential to increase engagement in the workplace and improve productivity.
The reality is, as Dang tells us and the YouGov study shows, it’s impossible for our lives not to be dictated by our work as we become more involved with our projects and the way we work develops. But is that always such a bad thing?