For many adults, the workplace is where a large chunk of time is spent. On top of a career, things like family, residences and leisure activities must also be managed. If it is hard to master the art of balancing work and life, News You Can Use is here to assist. From keeping your life’s passions alive in or out of your work to reinventing your career-self, we’ve got expert tips. Also, if you are the co-worker of a cancer survivor or you are someone fighting the disease in the workplace, we’ve got advice on that. Keep checking back as more stories and insight into balancing life and work will roll out throughout the month.
There are mornings when getting out of bed may seem impossible, and the idea of spending the day at work is unappealing. If working from home is an option, one University of Alabama at Birmingham expert says perks of telecommuting go beyond working in pajamas.
In early 2013, a leaked memo to employees of Yahoo showed the company had reversed their telecommuting policy citing that “speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home.” But Scott Boyar, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Management, Information Systems and Quantitative Methods at the UAB Collat School of Business, said it is hard to make a blanket judgment.
“The success of an employee working from home depends on the person, on the job and on the training the organization provides to do that role remotely,” Boyar said. “An organization has a lot of responsibility when letting workers go virtual, but the employee carries a lot of it too. There are questions they should ask themselves.”
A recent Gallup “State of the American Workforce” report revealed that 70 percent of U.S. workers “are not reaching their full potential,” and University of Alabama at Birmingham experts said it is for good reason.
“People are being called upon to do more for less,” said Suzanne Scott-Trammell, executive director of UAB Career & Professional Development Services. “When the economy improves, we will likely see many employees changing jobs.”
Robert Robicheaux, Ph.D., marketing professor and chairman of Department of Marketing, Industrial Distribution and Economics in the UAB School of Business, agreed that the sluggish economy has impacted workers’ job status.
Scott-Trammell and Robicheaux offered tips to help workers reinvent themselves:
Anyone not reading this on a tablet or smartphone probably has some sort of portable electronic device in their pocket or purse to stay connected. Maybe too connected, say experts at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
“There is more and more evidence that our electronic devices can be addicting,” said Despina Stavrinos, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology at UAB. “Certainly our research shows they can be dangerous.”
Stavrinos runs the Translational Research for Injury Prevention Lab at UAB which studies distracted driving, particularly among teens. She says people who text while driving are 23 times more likely to have a motor vehicle crash.
“We call texting while driving the perfect storm, as it takes your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel and your mind off of concentrating on what you should be doing – which is driving,” she said. “But it’s not just texting that can be an issue. Checking e-mail, talking on the phone or accessing a map program can also be distracting and dangerous.”
Stavrinos said a little self-control is called for because our love for devices is not going away, nor should it.
“These are very valuable tools, and we’re not going to give them up,” she said. “But we have to balance the benefits of staying connected while mitigating the impact of the distractions, whether it’s while driving, walking down the street or even having dinner in a restaurant.”
While day jobs may prompt many to consider chasing down a dream, Josh Klapow, Ph.D., associate professor in the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Public Health, recommends carefully considering the pitfalls of turning a passion into a career.
Gabriel Tajeu“We all dream of turning our hobbies into our livelihood, and we tend to read about and see the success stories – the stories of someone who has decided to give up a job and pursue their hobby as a career,” Klapow said. “What we don’t see are the failures. Pursuing a hobby as a vocation is not always the best move.”
Gabriel Tajeu is enjoying the best of both worlds. A doctoral student and graduate research assistant in UAB’s School of Public Health, he also plays guitar in a cover band and released his own CD, “Finding My Way.”
Music is not just a hobby to him.
“It’s always been something that I would consider turning into a career if the door was opened to me, so I have continued to work on my music while pursuing my other passion, academia,” Tajeu said.
“I love both of the things I do. Admittedly though, pursuing music as a main source of income and my primary career is a bit more terrifying. I would face a lot more economic uncertainty, and I’d be away from friends and family a lot.”
A person is considered a cancer survivor from the minute they are diagnosed with the disease. Tips from experts at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) can help survivors continue pre-diagnosis daily routines that may include working; one such expert, a cancer survivor herself, experienced firsthand the benefits and challenges of survivorship in the workplace.
Before heading back to the office, a patient and their doctor must consider the type of treatment, stage of the cancer, overall health and the kind of work, according to the American Cancer Society. Teri Hoenemeyer, director of education and supportive services at the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center, said employers are required to support a survivor’s decision.
“Cancer is classified as a disability, and working survivors have protections and rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act, so employers will need to provide time for doctor’s appointments and treatments that may go above and beyond Family Medical Leave,” Hoenemeyer explained. “If they are suffering from fatigue or have a special needs, employers will need to consider making reasonable accommodations.”