60 per cent of UK employees work longer hours than they want to. 24 per cent find it hard to relax outside the office because they are thinking about work. These are the depressing findings of the annual UK Working Lives survey from Britain’s Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. Most British employers are paying no more than lip service to the notion of good work-life balance for their people. Their inflexible approach to staff presence contributes to employee overwork, stress and physical exhaustion.


Workers need time and space to manage stress, and companies should help with this. If you’re a manager, do you know how your team members (would) like to get going in the morning, and to unwind? Jogging, walking the dog, playing the piano – we all have different ways – but too few bosses do anything to encourage their staff to start and end the working day in a way that promotes wellbeing.

My day starts with some yoga. I’m a relative beginner and my new knee means I can’t kneel properly, let alone sit in lotus position. However, the more I practise, the more obvious the benefits become. And there are several of these.

First, it’s a great way to wake up the body: stretching bits that would otherwise stay dormant forever makes one feel brighter and more alert. Breathing regularly and deeply gets the lungs working and has a calming effect on the relentless mental buzz. Staying still in a favourite pose helps with mental control and relaxation, too. Other positive outcomes for me include weight loss, improved posture and the disappearance – touch wood – of an old back problem.

You may loathe the idea, but I can’t help being a yoga evangelist. Somewhere in a parallel universe, people are starting their working day with a yoga class provided by their benign employers, leaving them serene and focused until home time. If only we could find a wormhole through to that better place.

Steve Flinders is a freelance trainer, writer and coach, based in Malta, who helps people develop their communication and leadership skills for working internationally: steveflind@aol.com

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Scan Magazine Ltd.’

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