Are we living to work, or working to live?

The average UK worker will spend around 85,000 hours at work during their lifetime – or just under ten years*!

Globally this number is only on the rise, so it’s no surprise that having a healthy work life balance is becoming essential to employed people and their employers – perhaps even more so for those with children at home.

This week marks National Work Life Week (7-11 October), a campaign run by Working Families that explores the importance of maintaining a healthy balance for working parents and carers and gives both employers and employees the chance to shine a light on wellbeing and the work life mix in the workplace.

It also follows the release of a major survey, named The Better Life Index, from the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), which named The Netherlands as the country with the best work life balance. The UK was 11th from last of the 35 states in the list**, with determining factors including leisure and personal time, the employment of mothers, household income and wealth, and working hours.

At work benefits are central to a healthy balance, from flexible working, through to supportive financial benefits or ongoing education. For many, being able to continue to better themselves is key to maintaining a healthy sense of wellbeing, yet finding time to study can be hard.

Aneta Barham, a 30-year-old from Norfolk, has three children, including a one-year-old. Since living in the UK, she has been able to continue her education via distance learning, something that has contributed to her sense of wellbeing and happiness.

She said: “As a working mum with a busy working husband I didn’t think I had time to do anything other than fulfil those key responsibilities. Studying was something I wanted to continue to do, so I can support myself in my role as a carer for those with disabilities and mental illnesses and also providing palliative care, but also work towards my ultimate dream of becoming a translator of Polish and Spanish.”

To ensure she can continue down this route, Aneta has studied with distance learning provider Open Study College and has ensured her dream has stayed alive.

She added: “I knew I wanted to study, despite lacking free time. Distance learning is so flexible, there is no pressure and I can study whenever I want to.”

Since arriving in the UK Aneta has undertaken a number of courses to support her professional career, including Introduction to Psychology Level 2 with Open Study College.

Other comments from students included this one from a working mum of one: “I’m so glad distance learning was an option for me as it has allowed me to strike a good work life balance between working, studying, doing the school run and spending quality time with my family.”

Sam Rutter, CEO at Open Study College, added: “Flexibility is often a key reason behind our students opting for the distance learning route. In fact, 75% of our students said that they chose distance learning as it allows them to fit studying around their schedule, including work and family commitments. A further 20% directly referenced children as a motivating factor as well, which demonstrates the importance of flexibility for people trying to create a healthy balance between work, home life and themselves.”