Your work life and home life should not be mutually exclusive, however, they are all too often seen as such — after all, it’s no secret that, in some sectors, leaving work on time to get a glimpse of your kids’ faces before bedtime is frowned upon.
Agencies have long had a reputation for excessive working hours, particularly the marketing sector, with a culture of presenteeism — including bosses (and colleagues) who openly judge you based on how many extra hours you put in daily and even how many personal engagements you skip in order to complete work tasks.
This is sadly still the case in some agencies, often in London, where people start work at 7am and work ‘til late daily, with weekends being no exception.
This is a very unhealthy attitude to work, and agency life doesn’t need to be this way. Of course, people are expected to work certain hours, but in 2019 this doesn’t even need to be the standard 9 until 5:30 — flexibility is truly great for both employees and employers.
Work-related stress and mental illness now accounts for over half of working days lost due to ill health in the UK, with a recent rise in new cases — in fact, this costs the economy over £7.5bn per year, and of course costs the individuals involved deeply. So, what is the primary cause of work-related stress? An unhealthy work-life balance is the main culprit.
What is the right work-life balance?
Generally speaking, a work-life balance can be described as the division of a person’s time and focus between work and non-work activities — be that spending time with your family, engaging in leisure pursuits, or watching the latest Netflix release in your PJs with your cat.
There is no magic number or ratio for a work-life balance, and it is a fluid notion, meaning your ideal work-life balance will alter frequently throughout your life, as your personal life and career progress.
The balance differs from person to person, also, making it entirely subjective.
Why is a work-life balance important?
Bosses who support and encourage their employees to enjoy a fruitful life outside of work are not only supporting the individuals they employ but are also directly benefiting their business — a team of happy, well-rested employees is the best and most productive team anyone can have.
Directors and managers will see the difference and clients will, too. Everyone wins, and there’s not a regular 12-hour day in sight!
The work-life balance at SALT.agency
SALT.agency was born from the desire of two people to escape the typical unrewarding agency culture and stagnancy — never doing anything new or being able to create bespoke campaigns around the actual needs of brands.
Having been senior employees within several agencies over the years, Martin and Reza had a drive to create their vision of what an SEO agency should be like.
Enter SALT.agency— an atypical digital agency that is built to be different.
Assembled from the ground up, SALT uses processes and frameworks to reduce wasted time, leaving more time for consulting with clients and therefore adding value.
At SALT, we time-track so workloads can be closely managed, enabling bespoke projects to be run according to the needs of the campaign, rather than to easily fit into a templated process.
Our project managers can then easily plan work and redistribute workloads where necessary, ensuring no one employee is ever overloaded with work.
Although an obvious benefit in many ways, not all SEO agencies track their time — in fact, some aren’t transparent in the slightest about how they operate.
Alongside an annually increasing holiday allowance, allowing for relaxing adventures further afield if you wish, SALT offers flexible work hours, meaning you can easily fit work around your life if you have a young family or need to catch a certain train or bus to get to and from work.
We all like to work hard at SALT and strive to do our best for every client, yet we all have varying work-life balances.
Some people work their exact hours every day and head home, while others clearly thrive in a busy work life and can regularly be found at their desk well beyond our official opening hours.
Maintaining interests and relationships outside of work is important for every team member, and we all have our own pastimes.
I’ve gone back to college this year to learn about ceramics and have started attending yoga classes, while my colleagues enjoy hobbies such as gaming, travel, playing bass guitar in a band, bouldering, and working out in the gym.
As a team, we enjoy regular team building activities too such as escape rooms and scavenger hunts — however, if someone would rather stay in the office and work, that is fine.
The last thing we need is someone getting stressed because they can’t meet a deadline due to enforced team building!
In summary, I feel the secret to striking the perfect work-life balance when working in an SEO agency is management that makes it possible.
Allowing employees flexibility in their working hours and encouraging them to pursue activities outside of SEO is key — otherwise, pressure can build and a negative work ethic can then bloom.