Work/Life Balance in the Americas
this is Lukas from the Siemens Graduate Program. I just recently moved from Munich to Atlanta to start my assignment abroad. Having the privilege to move to another continent for an interesting project obviously also has a large impact on my daily personal life. So let me give you a personal impression of what the Siemens “Work-Life Balance” means for me. Some of you might have followed a recent discussion that Yahoo is thinking about getting rid of the possibility to do “home office”.
At Siemens this is the contrary. Home office is an integral part of the Siemens office concept which has also been discussed here previously. My opinion is that this is exactly the right direction for Siemens to take. Just imagine: you have a technician that needs to come by your home during normal office hours. With the possibility to work from home you don’t have to take an extra day of vacation just so you sit around at home waiting for that technician to come. This flexibility to work from wherever you want to makes it a lot easier to combine your personal life with your work life. So on a sunny day, your office might even look something like this:
Or take me: I am currently living in a hotel and on the search for a new apartment in Atlanta I can live in for the next months. With the ability to work from wherever I want, I am very flexible in regards to looking at apartments, signing up for power, etc. and still catching up with my daily work. I can check my e-Mails, dial into conferences, share documents on internal servers, and even use my “Voice over IP” phone to stay in touch with my German colleagues back in my old office. Siemens has done a great job of implementing this concept. Although most people still come to the office on a daily basis, it is a good feeling to know that there is the possibility of using the home office when it is needed. For me that adds a substantial benefit to my work life balance. But work life balance isn’t just about bringing work to your personal life. It is also about bringing your personal life to work. Personally, I highly value the free time I have. Although I have only been here a short time, I already joined a weekly golf round with some other SGP’ers from the area. I think Siemens can still improve in this point of integrating the personal life into work. Other companies such as Adidas or Google have vast offices that have an even better infrastructure, which can be used for your personal interest. Adidas offers their employees multiple sporting facilities to use both during work and free time (I guess that makes sense, considering they need to test their own products). Google on the other hand designs parts of their offices to look more like a private home rather than business offices to trigger the creativity of its employees.
Siemens has recognized this trend, and with the “New Way of Working” campaign Siemens is bringing new work-life balance opportunities into North America.
Some might argue that a strict separation between work and personal life is better. Considering how much time every one of us spends at the office, I think blending in work and personal life benefits our overall wellbeing. What do you think? Is Siemens on the right track or are there still (substantial) areas of improvement?