Work Life Effectiveness interview series: Edward Boyle
What does Work Life Effectiveness (“WLE”) mean to you?
To me, WLE is about making the best of use of my time and energy to be effective at work and also be with my young family. Having energy is at least as important as having time because when I’m with my son, I need to be fully engaged with him and not collapsed on the sofa.
What is one strategy that helps you establish, maintain, and achieve WLE in your workday?
My son has a fairly established bedtime routine, so I know what time I have to leave the office to be back in time to spend time with him before he goes to bed. It helps me to have a target to work toward. Sometimes being late is unavoidable due to client commitments or travel. But if I can’t make it back in time, I try to make sure it’s for a reason I can’t control rather than being habitual. Having that target helps to give me the discipline to focus on what needs to be done in the office. If I need to, I’ll get back online after my son is asleep. It helps to build in that break to think about what actually needs to be done and what I can push to the following day.
What do you find the most challenging about being effective in both your work & family lives?
The nature of the work is that we sometimes need to be responsive to situations that can arise out of nowhere and evolve very rapidly. Those engagements will inevitably have an impact on family life for that intense period. There is a bit of taking the rough with the smooth; once I get out of that busy period I try to take a bit of time back and make sure I’m getting more time at home between projects, or when the rhythm of the project changes into a more manageable pattern.
The challenge now is that I used to be able to catch up on some sleep on the weekends. But looking after an 18-month-old is much more tiring than going to the office, so the weekend schedule can be quite tough. Saturday mornings now start a good few hours earlier than they used to.
Is there an AlixPartners program that you have found helpful in maintaining a good balance?
The recent increase in paternity leave was nicely timed for me. It was rolled out while my wife was pregnant and was a big help. Yet the main source of help was not an official program but having supportive colleagues, particularly when my son was born. My MD at the time, Mike Murphy, recognized that it was not a good time for me to go work in Singapore for six months, and I was able to work on projects that didn’t require travel at a time when it was important for me to be at home. I’ve found my colleagues, in general, to be very supportive and flexible when it comes to family commitments.
At what point in your career did you realize that WLE actually improves your performance in the workplace?
I think there’s a pretty strong body of evidence that cognitive functions, and decision-making, in particular, suffer when we’re tired. The important parts of the job are better done in the daytime with clear heads than at night with fuzzy ones. Coffee is good, sleep is better.