Last January on this blog I posted a piece about my resolution to achieve a more sustainable work-life balance in the coming year. As 2015 wraps up I’d like to share my thoughts on the progress of that journey and what it has meant for me as well as The Fearey Group.
What I’ve learned is work-life balance doesn’t just mean working less and ‘living’ more, although that’s definitely a worthwhile goal. But it’s also about putting more life into our work and more work into our lives. Why must these two aspects of ourselves be so separated? Bringing them into greater harmony has been the working philosophy for The Fearey Group in 2015.
We started by completely re-imagining our workspace. We moved up one floor and seized the opportunity to create an environment that promotes collaboration, communication and self-management. After removing the walls and closed doors that define a traditional office space we began to see ourselves and our work in a new light. The way we interact changed. No longer individual parts plugged into specific roles, we began to cross-pollinate and gel as a team with a collective purpose.
When everyone has a top-down perspective on operations, everyone recognizes their own value and responsibility to the whole. At Fearey we’re working to replace the old paradigm of modeling the workplace after the school. We’re adults! Adults don’t need to be locked into a discipline-based framework when they’re doing work they love with a team of trusted peers. We have each other’s backs. In 2015 we expanded our office policy to give everyone one flex-time day a week as well as extended Paid Time Off (PTO) options. Our staff retention has never been better and growth is at an all-time high. We’re working smarter, not harder.
2015 has been a big year for me personally. I started the year thinking about my own work/life balance and have largely met my goals. From being a front-row fanatic at my girls’ cheer competitions to identifying week days where I could see the kids out to school, I’ve achieved a level of participation in my family’s lives for which I’m deeply grateful. Yes, more must be done but I’m heading in the right direction. Beyond this, I’ve also had to move beyond my role as a parent and draw on my skills and experience as a business leader to take on the unique challenges facing my family.
As many of you know, my son Ermias was born with a rare affliction called Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB) that makes his skin and other connective tissues unimaginably fragile. Last spring I ran a half-marathon to raise awareness and money for EB research. My Crowdrise effort raised more than $9,000 and I have since been appointed board member of EB Research Partnership. In 2016, I will run again.
No matter what, I will continue to dedicate as much time and effort as I can to help Ermias and children like him have a better future.
Helping the community in Ermias’ birthplace in Woliso, Ethiopia, has been (and will always be) an ongoing effort of mine as well. With a clean water supply vastly insufficient to sustain the region’s population, my wife and I, along with other parents, helped set up a “care point” site in 2014 and continue to support efforts there through the not-for-profit Children’s HopeChest.
And this year, as we did in 2014, instead of sending holiday gift baskets to our partners, clients and friends, we at Fearey are making a donation to the Ethiopian “care point” site in their names. It’s yet another way we’ve managed to bridge the gap between our business and our families, our work and our lives. After all, at The Fearey Group we think of ourselves as a family, and giving is a great way to bring families together.
Work-life balance has always been a priority at Fearey, and in 2015 we made it a mission. And as a result, we’ve seen increases on all charts. Which to me feels less like the balancing of two opposites and more like the harmony of a great partnership.
On behalf of The Fearey Group family, and my Yantis-Blank family, I’d like to wish you very Happy Holidays and much success in 2016–in all areas of your life.