Work-life balance is one of the issues that has become very important in this New World of work. With the digital transformation and the disruptive ways of working of the new generations, we are faced with demands of flexible hours and spaces, equipment that facilitates mobility, extensions in the established times, etc.

And the truth is that work-life balance is a real need of the individual. Our day to day life is constantly evolving, and this kind of measures are necessary for each one to develop as a person, in our two aspects: personal life and professional side. It is a personal choice that each one must dimension and define, and where different alternatives can fit. It may be something different for each person, and all definitions are valid. If I had to make a bet, it would be for the freedom of the individual to lead his/her life, without excuses and with courage.

However, not everyone sees work-life balance as an opportunity to achieve the realization of one as a person. From this point of view, I always like to think that the only two qualities that one must develop in order to exercise a free and complete decision are consistency and practicality. During the stages of life, priorities are evolving. And depending on those priorities, that each person has set, one must be consistent and act accordingly. What happens many times is that people do not act coherently, pursue certain dreams and are carried away by the predominant tendency of the environment. That does not work. It is necessary to be brave, to fight for what one wants and to be eminently practical, because there will be times when it seems that there are contradictions between what you want and what you do. Practicality means eliminating what doesn’t contribute and staying with what really matters, to be what you want to be and live as you want to live.

Farewell to the hour culture. Hello to the target culture.

While it is true that my bet is on the freedom of each individual, the first step to achieve work- life balance must be given by companies. The first thing that must be achieved in order to successfully accomplish a company capable of practicing this benefit, is to completely eliminate the hourly culture. The company must evolve to a culture of objectives and results, where productivity and competitiveness do not depend on the hours of work of employees, but on the results of their work. We must focus more on the outcome and less on the process, which sometimes becomes so important that it loses sight of the objective.

Because of this, the values that must prevail in the companies are: trust, commitment and responsibility. With these values, it is easy to articulate actions in companies that favour work-life balance, such as smart working, flexible hours, extensions of the times established by labour regulations (in special periods pf people’s life such as maternity / paternity), the availability of volunteer hours, the possibility of buying holiday days, inclusion policies … There are countless actions, which I am proud to say are implemented in Vodafone, supported by innovative technology and an investment in best-in-class working tools, that allows our employees to balance their personal lives with Vodafone.

Benefits and consequences of work-life balance

After a career focused on the world of Human Resources, I could say that what I care about the most, above the professional, is the person. I cannot manage professionals if I do not see them in their dimension as people, the dimension that develops and grows. The only way a person can be more productive for the company it’s with its development and growth. That is why it is important to bet on these measures. The commitment of the person to the company when we are treated as such, multiplies exponentially, as well as their contribution. And that is the main and most important benefit.

Regarding future employees and the need that we have in companies for constantly attract the best talent, this type of measures are definitive. Even more so when we talk about the new generations, millennials, collectives that have a scale of values very clear and they know perfectly what type of company contributes them and which does not.

And finally, the customers, which is for whom the company works. Reputation and brand image is more than attractive advertising campaigns, interesting products, or an exceptional customer experience. The brand must be coupled with values of employees’ care comparable to what you sell as customer care and corporate social responsibility, to the same extent as Human Resources policies.

Companies that do not opt for it clearly will lose competitiveness. Let us not forget that, even if we say it many times, what makes the difference in companies is people. We say it many times, but rarely do we act accordingly. This is the reality and we should not lose sight of it. The company that loses sight of that variable will not have options to attract and retain the best talent, and this will impact directly on the company’s income statement.

Vodafone is one of the benchmarks in the national and international market of policies that favour the balance of personal and professional life. We trust above all in our employees, in their responsibility and commitment to Vodafone, demonstrating it day by day with all their contribution. We favour proactivity, ideas (where we prefer the mistake that the paralysis by lack of initiative). A company that defines itself by wanting to give the power to its client – Power To You – can only do it starting from the premise of giving power to our employees.

In Vodafone, all employees have mobile tools to develop smart working from where they want, there is flexible time of entry and exit, we have policies to extend the periods of maternity and paternity, we favour the volunteering of our employees, giving not only the knowledge but also our technology for the benefit of disadvantaged groups. We also have a wide range of inclusion policies because for us, this also means work-life balance, that each person has the opportunity show himself as he is, in the working environment. Regardless of your sexual, social or religious status.

In our offices, we also seek to promote work-life balance through innovative digital tools. For example, the pool of parking spots that are not in use, are available daily on an app, to be able to optimize our resources.

With the digital transformation that we are experiencing in these years, an even greater range of opportunities and tools opens up to favour this personal and professional balance. We must take advantage of it in the same way that we do in other facets of our life. From Human Resources departments, we must play a fundamental role assuming this new digital world as a lever over management.

I would like to highlight a message that has been implicit in all this reflection and that is essential. The balance between professional life and personal life is an issue that depends on each and every one of us. It is not an issue solely because it is a responsibility of the companies. Balance is a personal matter. The company must support and provide policies so that all these definitions have room, but the search for this balance is a personal choice. It is not easy and in many cases, it will require courage to choose one path and leave another, but if it is done with coherence and practicality we will see that some apparent contradictions are not such, and the only thing that we need to do is eliminate the superfluous to focus on what will really help us to be who we want to be. We should never forget that being who we want to be and live the life we want is what will mark our triumph in life, inside and outside a company.