Work-life balance has always been complicated. Add in the worldwide pandemic which has shifted most people (at least partly) to remote work and schooling, and it becomes an even more difficult task. So how are the women of Eaton coping? We asked three team members from the global power management and technologies company how they are handling this very delicate juggling act.
Tell us a bit about your job. What’s your current role and what were you doing previously?
Bev Norman: My current role is the Director of Finance for the Canadian division of Eaton’s electrical sector. I have been in this leadership position for around 10 years with the role increasing in responsibility and accountability.
Alicia Qiu: I am a Senior Product Design Engineer in the Aerospace Group. We design static seals for commercial aircraft and military helicopter engines. I have been with Eaton for just under 4 years. Prior to Eaton, I graduated in 2017 with my Bachelor’s in Aerospace Engineering.
Jazmin Reyes: I am a Program Manager for the eMobility business within Eaton. My job is to coordinate the effort of cross-functional and global teams to launch new products for the commercial electric vehicle market. I started this role in March 2021. In my previous role, I was managing projects in the aerospace group.
Attaining work-life balance can’t be done solo. What people, resources, and tools do you rely on to get it all done?
Bev Norman: I am fortunate that my husband and I really try to do our best to split most of the household chores with both of us being clear with each other if we won’t be able to fulfill our end of the bargain due to work commitments. When possible, I try to leverage my flexible work schedule and I utilize my outlook calendar to schedule time for getting the kids ready for school and for their appointments, etc. It’s not a perfect system but it works for our family. I think that is key — finding something that works for you.
Jazmin Reyes: Work-life balance is not an end state. There are many tools that can be used to remind you that you need to water your plants, go for a run, or even log off to give yourself time to wind down. I use those tools but by far the biggest influence is your network. I have met an extraordinary group of individuals that encourage me to discuss how I feel about the workplace through our iERGs. Ultimately those conversations force me to reflect on whether I have the desired balance and give me the opportunity to correct the course.
What kinds of boundaries have you established to separate work and family time?
Bev Norman: With COVID-19 and working from home full time it has been more difficult to separate work and family time. To make sure the lines don’t get too blurred, I try to block specific times on my calendar for personal initiatives. My goal is to leave my home office around the same time each day and shut down my work laptop. This isn’t always possible and I’m not striving for perfection — I’m happy if I can accomplish this a couple of times a week. One item we don’t waiver on is our “no phones/technology at the table” rule which helps ensure we are present during our family time.
Alicia Qiu: I do not check my phone for emails and texts until after my morning run. When I check emails before runs, I either respond immediately or will think about how I will respond during my run. The former oftentimes will cut into my morning running routine and the latter will cloud my thoughts during what should be a relaxing run. I realized that I want to give 100% of what I have to everything I do. I am focused on the task at hand and setting this boundary has allowed me to get there.
What’s one misconception you think exists around work-life balance today?
Bev Norman: In my opinion, the biggest misconception is that balance means a 50/50 split every single day. Balance is different for everyone and the split between work-life and personal-life differs for each person and can fluctuate for individuals over time. There definitely isn’t a one size fits all solution and I think acknowledging that work-life balance is a fluid situation is an important realization.
Jazmin Reyes: One misconception is driven by the word balance. It implies a perfect 50/50 split. When in reality you need to decide what that looks like for you. I live on the East coast and most of my family is on the West Coast. I’ve had the privilege to work from home since the pandemic started so I decided to spend a month and a half on the West Coast. That meant adjusting my work hours and taking more time off to be with family. On the flip side, I recently began a new role and I have been working more hours than usual. I am ok with that.
Let’s talk about your company’s culture. What’s your favorite aspect of it, and how does your employer aid you in achieving balance?
Jazmin Reyes: I decided to enter the workforce because I thought it crucial to experience it myself to be able to share my story with the younger generations I wanted to inspire. Representation has always mattered to me. Eaton is a partner with engineering diversity organizations, and recently I’ve had the honor to serve as the Liaison for the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. Our committee influences a cause that extends beyond Eaton’s core business: increasing the number of Latinos in STEM. We connect with undergraduates studying engineering, high schoolers trying to make decisions about college, and other professionals in similar industries. The fact that I can do this work while “on the clock” is my favorite aspect of Eaton’s culture.
Alicia Qiu: Eaton embraces diverse perspectives and through iERGs, I have found my passion for elevating the voices of the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community with SOAR. As SOAR’s Events Lead, I am responsible for the content and execution of national and local events. This role is no small undertaking, but with my manager’s support, I feel my voice is recognized and valued at the company.
These work-life balance challenges aren’t going away. While businesses and society, in general, have already started transitioning back into some semblance of the previous reality, new situations and challenges will arise. Hopefully, the advice and insight from these women who work at Eaton will continue to inform and inspire no matter what the future holds.
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