Challenged to find time to make it to your son’s soccer game? Does another business trip mean missing a family outing to the zoo? If these scenarios hit a little too close to home, you’re a member of the fast-growing group of Americans who struggle to maintain a healthy balance between work and family life. One solution that more professionals are looking to is technology that cuts the amount of time they spend in the office and on the road.

Hectic work schedules, rigorous project deadlines and increased business travel leave many professionals struggling to strike a balance between their work and family. As a result, American business people are demanding a commitment to work-life balance from their employers. Today, workers are less willing to lie about family needs and to cheat their children out of time. They’re pushing for family-friendly workplaces.

Flexibility over work schedule and control over work content have become key components to job satisfaction. In fact, the Families and Work Institute recently reported that flexibility at the workplace ranked as the most critical component for workers to manage responsibility at home and work. These time-management factors now have a greater impact over job satisfaction and work productivity than even money and career advancements.

This isn’t just a phenomenon in the United States. Workers worldwide want work-life balance. A recent Yankelovich Partners poll of more than 10,000 workers across the United States, Europe, Russia and Japan found that the five most desired qualities in a job are: ability to balance work and personal life, work that is truly enjoyable, security for the future, good pay or salary and enjoyable coworkers. Worldwide, the ability to "balance the needs of work and family or personal life" was either the most or second-most important attribute in a job.

On The Road Again
So what keeps many business people from achieving balance? Business travel is among the culprits. Research conducted by MCI WorldCom Conferencing last year on "Meetings in America" revealed that nearly one-fourth of professionals feel stressed out when required to travel to business meetings. Causes of this stress include spending time away from family, arranging to take care of personal responsibilities and keeping up with work at the office.

"Travel to and from corporate meetings can cause a great deal of anxiety for many business people, especially when it means extended time away from family and falling behind on other work assignments," said Jay Crookston, vice president, worldwide sales, MCI WorldCom Conferencing. "For these workers, electronic meetings are an alternative to stressful business travel, allowing professionals to strike a balance between personal and professional lives."

Conferencing Enters the Workforce
More and more business people are finding that conferencing technology can help them alleviate the stresses involved with balancing work and family issues. Here are some ways conferencing technology can help busy professionals manage their work loads:

Reduce travel – Fully one-third of respondents to MCI’s survey on "Meetings in America" said they are traveling more often now than they did a year ago. Replacing some of these business trips with audio or videoconferencing enables professionals to remain productive at the office and enjoy their regular routine with their families – and it provides cost savings for the company.
Telework – Many businesses today are allowing professionals to work from home full- or part-time to spend more time in the home. Conferencing helps keep teleworkers connected to the office.
Stay connected on the road – When professionals are required to travel, conferencing technology can make them more efficient on the road. Technology helps reduce work piling up at the office, alleviates time-consuming catch-up and allows them to return home as soon as possible.


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