Why A Good Work-Life Balance Is Better for Business

Emma Way our consultant managing the role
Author: Emma Way
Posting date: 8/15/2018 9:02 AM
Contrary to American sitcoms, work life balance isn’t about sitting in coffee shops contemplating life and complaining about work. However, there are plenty of jobs where you can work from or in a coffee shop. The rise of virtual, remote, and contractual roles has contributed to the demand for work life balance. But, sometimes, in our tech-led world, where business can follow us anywhere, the balance becomes more about setting boundaries. It’s about putting down our mobile phones, closing our laptops, and dipping our toes into other waters. 

Where Does Your Country Fit on the Work-Life Balance Scale?


European countries have been leading the way with work-life balance for some time, with the Netherlands topping the list at number one. With the UK sitting at number 29 out of the 38 countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), what’s tipping the scales?

  • 13% of British employees work 50 or more hours per week versus 0.5% of people in the Netherlands work those long hours.
  • The average Brit is therefore only setting aside 14.9 hours for leisure and personal care (including eating and sleeping) a day versus those in the Netherlands who dedicate 15.9 hours.
  • Countries in the Nordics work a maximum of 48-hours per week. However, the reality is significantly lower, with the Finnish working an average of 36.2 hours a week, the Swedes 35.9 hours, Norwegians at 34 hours, and the Danes just 32 hours.
Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Iceland have become renowned for fostering optimal work-life balance. But, though the Netherlands sits at the number one spot on the OECD, the Danes top the list as the happiest in the world.

The Danish welfare model, characterised by quality of life and a good work-life balance offers:

  • Flexible working conditions and social support networks, including maternity leave and childcare facilities.
  • A high degree of flexibility at work – often including adaptable start times and the ability to work from home.
  • Lunch breaks are often at a designated time each day, enabling colleagues to interact, eat together, and get away from their desks.
  • There is a minimum 5 weeks’ paid holiday for all wage earners.
  • The Danish welfare society is characterised by quality of life and a good work-life balance.

Work-life balance for the Danes is a healthy balance of priorities. As important as career and ambition is, are is just as important to balance life outside work (pleasure, leisure, family, and health). This understanding of balance not only puts Denmark at the top of the international equality table, it also contributes to a generally high standard of living.

Further research shows 33% of working American adults work over the weekend and on holidays. This, in turn, has led 66% to say they don’t feel they have a good work-life balance. One of the main drivers contributing to the need to always be “on” and available is 24/7 technology. 

For example, if an employer emails, texts, or rings an employee at dinnertime, the employee often feels compelled to answer straightaway. While 57% of those surveyed feel technology has ruined the family dinner, 40% believe it is okay to answer an urgent call or email at the dinner table. So, it comes back to boundaries and not feeling guilty about ‘switching off’ for a few hours or a few days to ‘recharge’.

What Companies are Doing to Improve Work-Life Balance 


Nordic businesses remain at the top of the list for best work-life balance. Though much of it is dictated by strict Nordic Labour laws, companies outside the Nordics are beginning to take pages from their playbook. 

At a business in Helsinki, Finland, employees are encouraged to go home on time at the end of their day. Often this falls around 5:00pm, though leaving earlier to say, go to a child’s sports activity, is always a guilt-free option.  Like many European businesses, employees also receive five weeks of paid vacation each year. Everyone gets stock options and teams are small with the ability to make autonomous decisions. The theory: this team is closest to the project, they know what is best for it. No management approval required, but only to help share in lessons learned.

Many Nordic businesses have shortened hours and a focus on family. By putting family first, businesses report improved productivity and innovation, less absenteeism, and reductions in staff turnover. Other benefits can include:

  • Ability to leave work 30-minutes early to pick up kids from school or take them to sports practice
  • Ability to use sick days to take care of sick children
  • Businesses regularly offer gym memberships, event discounts, leadership classes, and team-building exercises as well as opportunities for employees to take courses and further their education. At one business, in Sweden, for example, employees have access to a leisure centre and recreational activities such as fishing, tennis, and swimming.

Though everyone has their own definition of what work-life balance means to them, it can be difficult to follow without government mandates, like in some European countries, or if you’re a small business. Our UK and Europe Salary Guide showed that, with over 98% of respondents working full time, at least some flexibility is now expected. We found that 53% of respondents work at home at least one day a week, and 56% have flexible working hours, highlighting that these ‘benefits’ are now becoming the norm. 

Harnham Life


As a business, we try to both reflect, and the lead the way with, developments that we see across the Data & Analytics industry. From ensuring our consultants leave on time two days per week to participate in pursuits outside work, to offering one fully-paid Charity Day per year, we place emphasis on creating an environment where our teams feel like they have a good work-life balance. By building a culture where a consultant can set up a book club or arrange a night out on the town, we have formed a business where employee welfare is prioritised. 

Though everyone has their own definition of what work-life balance means to them, it can be difficult to follow without government mandates like in some European countries or if you’re a small business. The important thing is to do what’s right for you and sometimes turn off your phone, close your laptop, and meet up with some family or friends in that coffee shop. 

Whether you’re looking for a permanent position with more benefits, or the freedom of a contract role, we’re here to help with your job search.  

Related blog & news

With over 10 years experience working solely in the Data & Analytics sector our consultants are able to offer detailed insights into the industry.

Visit our Blogs & News portal or check out the related posts below.

A decade of data

A Decade of Data

Y2K was nearly 20 years ago. Remember when we were all worried about the massive changes that could mean; the preparations we made getting ready for the turn of the century? Ten years later, we scoffed at our worries and hopped on the Data bandwagon…some of us. Others are still trying to catch up but in recent years, most businesses have realised it isn’t a matter of “if” you should have a Data strategy and begin to build your team, it’s a matter of “if you don’t do it, you’ll be left behind.” As the year and the decade come to a close, we thought we’d take a look back and see some of the trends which have shaped a decade of digital transformation. And like everyone who takes a moment to look back and reflect, in our next article, we’ll take a look forward and see what surprises 2020 has in store. Data Trends Then and Now Still reeling from the financial crisis of 2008-2009, budget concerns were top of mind for many. The takeaway? Plan, and be flexible.  Other trends which began in 2010 still exist today, but the vocabulary has changed. And there are further changes still which impact our technologies today and in ways we may not have realized. Train and Retrain becomes Upskill and Reskill. In 2010, organisations were advised to train, and cross train their staff. Not much has changed in ten years as it’s just as important now. Only the vocabulary has changed. Now it’s upskill and reskill those employees with the skill and inclination to pivot into more Data-centric roles within your company.Colocation Concerns Give Rise to the Cloud. Astronomical real estate costs for Data centre space and colocation prices drove businesses to find another way to store and manage their Data. As Cloud Computing spread, it allowed companies to avoid costly IT infrastructures. Not only did this save money, but it also gave businesses the flexibility they needed. In addition to the benefits of enterprise level organisations, cloud computing levels the playing field for smaller businesses to get in on the game.Virtual in the Palm of Your Hand. Smartphones and apps offer project management of our businesses and personal lives from “what’s for dinner?” to “let’s schedule our next meeting.” Our smartphones are a one-stop shop for phone calls, text messages, video conferences, scheduling, communication with remote teams, online banking, bill pay, and more.Eco-friendly is not an option, it’s an imperative. Carbon-emissions and reduction plans were already abuzz within companies. Today, Data has evolved from LEED green building certification to massive advances and predictions on the climate crisis. Standards are set.Blockchain finds friends in finance, and beyond. Though it debuted in 2008 in the finance industry, it was quickly snapped up in every industry from manufacturing to retail to shipping; any business requiring a more organised supply chain.  Rise of Automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) offers benefits beyond basic tasks. While this evokes fears for many in the workforce, there are benefits which is what’s driving things forward. While this is intended to streamline processes and avoid health risks in dangerous places like factories, there is still some cause for concern. However, some studies suggest people are happy to allow computers to take on mundane, routine, and menial tasks, freeing humans to think more creatively.  Getting Social Goes Online. Though platforms like Facebook and MySpace (yeah, remember MySpace?) were already available in 2010, the plethora of platforms today was a glimmer in our smartphones’ eye. No longer relegated to youth culture, social media has become one of the most important ways for leaders and corporations to communicate with people.  The Information Age has morphed into the 'Data Decade', with improvements across Data and Analytics, AI, and Machine Learning just to name a few. It’s enhancements within these spectrums which allow Data professionals to search and sort more quickly to provide the most useful Insights for their enterprises.   It’s estimated that in the next couple of years, 90% of companies will list information as critical and Analytics as essential to their business strategy. If you’re interested in Marketing & Insights, Robots and Automation, Big Data and Digital or Web Analytics, we may have a role for you. Take a look at our latest opportunities or get in touch with one of our expert consultants to find out more. 

MARKETING INSIGHT AND THE CUSTOMER FEEDBACK LOOP

Marketing Insight And The Customer Feedback Loop

As the holidays approach, Marketers are focusing more than ever on User Experience (UX). They’re not only looking at what kind of product customers might want or need but how will it look and feel to them? If a product doesn’t have what you need or doesn’t function as appealingly as others, what good is it? Key elements such as aesthetics, usability, and ‘feel’ are integral to the user experience. Because these elements come from such seemingly disparate departments as Marketing and Developers, it’s important to figure out how to come together for the ultimate UX. After all, if today’s buyers buy experiences over tangible products, then ensuring the experience is important to bridging the gap between customers, marketers, and developers. This, when done right, helps to build and retain customer relationships; the foundations upon which business is built. Design User Experience with M&D By bringing marketers and developers (M&D) together, you create the opportunity for innovation. But there are some key elements to consider when designing UX and it follows four stages. Do your research. Identify needs, spending patterns, buying behaviours, and historical data to determine what it is customers desire. Find out what they want or need and give it to them. This is the role of the marketer backed by development.Gather the data. Using multiple touch points across multiple sources and channels, find what works. What product offers usability and determine how design choices can help to create a seamless experience for your customer.Design your idea and create a prototype. Brainstorm your design. What are its product features, user interface, and aesthetics? Does it look user friendly? Would you pick it up off the shelf? Why? What is it about the product that makes you want to have it? What problems can it solve for you?Time to Test it. Is your product user friendly? What are its useful functions? How does it look? Feel? Incorporate feedback to improve its performance, function, or aesthetic. What does your test market say? Would they buy it? Why or why not? Bridging the Gap with collaboration We can forget sometimes, lost in our jargon and our buzzwords, that it’s the customer who we hope will benefit from our product or service. Yet, traditionally, marketers gathered customer preferences and drove sales, while developers designed products based on those preferences. However, the two departments were often siloed and creativity, usability, function, and aesthetics either got overshadowed or underrepresented to varying degrees. Enter customer feedback an integral point of reference for all parties involved. Customers are at the heart of user experience and it’s their feedback which can inform the user experience. What better marketing insights than those straight from the customer? Working with Marketers and Developers, customers provide a crucial component to helping marketers understand market dynamics. On the flip side, customer feedback can help mitigate risk or issues down the road by providing solutions and helping to resolve problems. the impact on Product Development By conducting user experience testing, marketers and developers can determine if a product is a good fit for customer needs. At the same time, they may identify issues to be resolved which can be learned of in real-time for a better user experience once the product is launched. Each has their role to play in designing the user experience and contributing to market insights for more informed business decisions.  These include: Marketers are part of the design experience from conception to inception. They are responsible for gathering the data to identify problem areas, working with Developers to create a product or service to solve a problem, and gathering data from the customer. Do they like this product? Why? What pain points does it serve? And how can it be made better or improved? Developers are the designers. They must take the information the marketers have collected and try to make the product into something functional and aesthetically-pleasing. Though they operate more at the back-end, they too much collaborate with customers to capture issues and solve problems. Developers test the products, making improvements as needed. Each stage a constant in UX design.Customers offer invaluable data and metrics through their feedback and reviews. The insights they contain as the end user about using the product, revealing its challenges, and suggesting room for improvement, make this three-part collaboration the final link in the chain between marketers, developers, and customers when it comes to designing the ultimate user experience. If you’re interested in the relationship between insights and UX, we may have a role for you. Check out our current opportunities or get in touch with one of our expert consultants to learn more. 

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