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Do Latte Machines and Ping Pong Tables at the Office Actually Create Work Life Balance?

I work with many clients who struggle with anxiety and stress related to lack of work life balance. My job as their clinical therapist is to help the client find possible reasons why they are struggling with this lack of work life balance and then possible coping strategies to help with their anxiety related to their work. I recently read an article that touched on a very similar topic from Fast Company, “Hip offices are part of our mental health crisis, here’s why” by author Aaron Harvey.

Harvey discusses how offices are trying to help people increase their overall wellbeing, but are totally missing the mark on what that truly means. When talking with my clients about the lack of work life balance, I have certainly seen overlapping issues that Harvey discusses in his article.

Below are some key points from his article.

  • Ping Pong tables and wellness? Harvey discusses that “hip” offices are implementing appealing things in their offices such as ping pong tables, latte machines, open offices, and for some, kitchens turning into a bar after 6pm. While for some that may look appealing, but for most, it likely wears off after the first week. It almost provides a subtle message that you are to be working after 6pm.
  • Burnout. While the offices are trying to make things more enjoyable and appealing to their staff, a latte machine certainly doesn’t change the burn out rate for their staff, and it does not at all address helping employees with their mental health. Approximately 32 million Americans experience mental illness each year, and unfortunately, only half are getting treatment for it. I have noticed that a large majority of the clients I work with are experiencing anxiety or depression heavily related to their career, and for many it is due to not having a healthy work life balance.
  • The need for disconnecting from work. Despite having mental health days and “hip” offices, people are still struggling to truly disconnect from work, which then creates individuals to feel extremely exhausted, overwhelmed, anxious, and even depressed. People struggle with unplugging from work when they get home because they may see their coworkers are still online working. A study from 2015 from NAMI Massachusetts even showed that 64% of people leave their job because their mental health was affected by it. And, 81% of productivity loss occurs as a result when people choose to work while they are sick.
  • Change is needed. Companies need to do something about this mental health crisis for their employees. There will never be enough latte machines and ping pong tables to solve this issue from occurring, as those latte machines and ping pong tables are indirectly making the problem worse given their subtle meaning of wanting employees to work longer hours. There simply needs to be a mental health reform in the workplace. For some, maybe that means training managers about mental health. Employees should feel supported that if they are going through anxiety or depression, that they have trusted managers to support them. At the end of the day, the managers want their employees to thrive, and without taking individuals’ mental health seriously, it can be incredibly difficult and emotionally exhausting to actually thrive.

Thus, while ping pong tables and a “hip” environment might look like an ideal place to work, there is much more needed in order to genuinely feel a sense of work life balance.

If you are currently struggling with a lack of work life balance, it may be a good idea to connect with one of our skilled counselors at Symmetry Counseling today. You can contact them at 312-578-9990 to set up an appointment. Symmetry Counseling also offers professional development workshops on mental health in the work place.

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