Finding work–life balance at a startup

Written by Karola Morawska

Karola Morawska’s photo

Finding work–life balance at a startup

We strive so much for some balance between our personal and professional life, but why?

Welcome to the world of startups, where the boundary between work and your private life is blurry.

For many entrepreneurs and startup employees, work–life balance is an achievement. Have you ever wondered what made us strive for it so much?

Nine–to–five

Traditionally understood work–life balance assumed the separation of private and professional life. People would enter an office, turn their work mode on for 8 hours straight, and then disconnect once they got back home.

For some, perhaps, that’s still the way. But for the most of us, things have changed along with new technology and the entrepreneurial spirit that generated.

The new approach

Millennials perceive work differently. Unlike the previous generation, they value autonomy and independence over security, structure and the position within.

In the startup world, not only do employees expect a satisfying salary, but also opportunities for personal development and respect for their needs outside of work. In exchange, employers get staff that’s engaged, dedicated and efficient.

Entrepreneurs tend to understand that causation. They offer plenty of benefits to employees, and some of them have an impact on our work–life balance.

Flexible work time

Startup work is oriented on tasks and results, so the time spent in front of a computer is negligible. In effect, the new model has emerged: employees decide when—and in what amount—the work is done.

There is another side of this coin: workaholism. Have you ever pulled an all-nighter to get a project done on time? Words worth remembering:

Workaholics aren’t heroes. They don’t save the day, they just use it up. The real hero is already home because she figured out a faster way to get things done.

—Jason Fried

Workplace

Stocked bars, foosball and massage tables, nap rooms, video games and so on. Boy, startup spaces are special. Ask anybody else and their definition of an office is most likely to be completely different.

For most of us, work doesn’t mean workplace anymore—it’s a mindset. Apart from doing our jobs there, the office is where we recharge.

Perks

Nowadays, startups seek talent like it’s the Holy Grail. Once someone has been found, they intend to keep that person for as long as possible. But when generous salaries are the default, perks come to play.

New MacBooks, gym memberships, cinema tickets… The list is long, but what matters is rarely the quantity. It’s about identifying employees’ weaknesses and helping overcome them.

Helping us live as comfortably as possible is how employers lure us in. Taking weight off people’s shoulders results in happiness, better focus, and productivity. In this sense, work–life balance is a give–or–take.

Doing what you love

We try to neutralize work by finding some balance between our personal and professional life. But as startup employees, I think we should embrace the medley.

Startups are companies founded with passion and excitement. Everybody at those companies can notice the results of their work and therefore have a real impact. That’s the key to happiness. And when you’re happy about what you’re doing, there’s no need to balance it out.