In the 2016 Staples Business Advantage Workplace Index, 22 percent of those surveyed admitted to having changed jobs due to problems with their work-life balance. However, the advent of Industry 4.0 has provided a plethora of communication platforms that are simple and affordable to use and workers can have collaborative access to files, documents, software and meetings.
These technological advancements have changed the way professionals work, resulting in a shift in their work-life balance towards a greater focus on personal lives without compromising work commitments.
The globalization of supply chains has led to a requirement for effective communication and collaboration across long distances and often across different time zones.
The improved connectivity, brought about by Industry 4.0, enables workers to achieve this. For example, they can have meetings with clients and colleagues in different countries using video conferencing software such as Skype. These capabilities reduce the frequency of travel for workers, so they do not have to leave homes, families and friends for long periods of time.
However, many companies still place a strong emphasis on the value of meeting face to face for business discussions. When travel is necessary, the ease of communication means that plans can be shared, and arrangements can be executed efficiently. This makes traveling a more viable option.
Remote working, a growing trend in many businesses, is now a more feasible option thanks to the increased connectivity that is occurring as the Internet of Things (IoT) progresses. Workers can do everything they would normally do in the office, but from any location using any device. This means they can visit clients’ offices or job sites without ceasing communication with colleagues. As a result, workers are less likely to have to work extra hours to catch up on what they missed while out of the office.
Remote working also allows more employees to work from home, which elicits many benefits for people’s work-life balance. For example, with the soaring price of childcare crippling parents’ finances, many are choosing to work from home so that they can simultaneously mind their children and avoid these costs. Working from home also opens more options for workers to fit exercise, social time and other appointments into their schedule.
Another reason for the popularity of working from home is the increasing traffic on the roads and the increased number of people living a long distance from the office. They can work from home to avoid the commute when traffic or weather would make the journey longer than usual.
Moreover, studies have shown that working from home makes people more productive. This is probably due to them working in their own familiar environments in comfortable clothing. Therefore, remote working can benefit whole businesses in addition to improving the staff work-life balance.
Many people prefer to work in an office environment, but their work-life balance can still benefit from the improved connectivity. They can stay in close communication with family and friends from the office if necessary and connectivity with CCTV cameras can even allow them to keep an eye on their house while at work.
Robots Lending a Helping Hand
There is widespread fear over the possibility of job losses as robots become more commonplace in factories. The truth of the matter is that robots will not replace humans’ jobs, but will have a positive impact on the work-life balance of the workforce.
For example, by delegating physical, strenuous tasks to robots, the human workforce can reduce injuries and stay in good health for longer. As a result, they will be better able to enjoy their free time and work until a later age, helping them to secure a good pension.
Furthermore, automated equipment can run processes through the nights and weekends. This means human workers do not have to work as many unsociable hours.
Barack Obama’s vision was to improve people’s work-life balance by enabling them to focus on both work and family without making sacrifices. The technology that Industry 4.0 has introduced has altered the routines of workers across all sectors, shifting the balance between work and personal lives and helping to bring Obama’s vision into reality.
Jonathan Wilkins is a marketing director at obsolete parts supplier EU Automation.