According to a survey from the American Psychological Association, more than one third of American workers experience chronic work stress. Architects aren’t firefighters or policeman but architecture professionals rank in the top 10 “burnout” careers in America. Architects often face the pressure of turning out projects under very tight deadlines, while juggling building code, design problems and safety issues. They not only have the pressure to perform, but may feel they sacrifice their personal and family lives for their jobs.
Is achieving better work-life balance the answer? And if so, how can better balance be achieved by the hard-working architect? According to Cristobal Young, sociology professor at Stanford University, it’s not about adding free time to your day.. It is more an issue of coordinating the free time you do have with that of friends and family. Here at Marks, Thomas Architects we work to promote better balance by offering ways in which to be healthy, connected, and creative.
To promote health and wellness, we offer yoga on Friday mornings to all employees. An outside yoga instructor brings her expertise to an hour-long class to ensure benefit for all participants. In the past we had “donut days” but now we offer more nutritious fruit and bagels once a week. And with the Affordable Care Act in place, we can do more than ever before to encourage good health. The 2006 changes to the ACA include tax incentives for employers providing participatory wellness programs, which include gym memberships, weight loss programs, and smoking cessation resources. What’s more, the health insurance we now provide employees covers much more preventive health care than it did before.
The health activities we offer are aimed at encouraging our staff to stay connected with each other. Company-sponsored softball games, canoeing and sailing trips, and swim parties make it possible for employees to socialize with colleagues while also including family and close friends. We recognize the value of social connection within the broader community as well. Our firm’s mission is to create business projects that improve our communities through environmental and social sustainability. In this way we provide opportunities for civic engagement through our day-to-day project work.
“Creative thinking reduces stress and keeps the brain healthy,”according to Scientific American. Marks, Thomas works to encourage creativity among all employees through open office design reviews, informal design competitions, and consistent reminders that our clients are seeking innovative approaches to their projects. In a wonderful loop, reduced stress leads back to more openness of mind, leading to more creative thinking.
With technology keeping us connected with work when we’re outside of the office, the separation between personal life and work has faded — making it vital that companies pay attention to work-life balance and provide opportunities for better wellness.
Notes Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO of Salesforce, “employees these days expect less of a separation of work and personal life. That doesn’t mean that work tasks should encroach upon our personal time, but it does mean that employees today expect more from the companies for whom they work.”
We are always looking for talented individuals to join our team. For more information on current openings, visit our careers page.