Balance. It’s easy to think of balance as something passive. Something is balanced. It just is.
Balance is not passive. It’s active. Every living, moving thing needs to balance actively – be that a rope walker or a cyclist or just you or me on the footpath. Sometimes we balance without thinking, sometimes we need to focus on it.
I believe the same is true of work-life balance. It doesn’t happen by itself. It takes active commitment. Balance in a work-life context doesn’t mean staying in the middle all the time. For many of us that will just lead to frustration rather than happiness; never being fully present at work and never being fully present at home or with friends. I think most of us will be our happiest and most productive selves by enthusiastically throwing ourselves one way and then the other; when the occasion demands it being fully committed to our work or conversely fully committed to our loved ones and the things we do to unwind.
For many of us who have reached the stage of life where we’ve started families one of the biggest challenges is finding the right balance between the work we enjoy and from which we derive great satisfaction and a sense of purpose, and the families we love.
One thing I try to remind people, one very important thing, is that children are small only for a short time. At RELEX we aim to operate in a way where people can organise their work tasks based on their preferences. Many things can be moved around and reorganised or simply done another time. With kids it doesn’t work that way. You cannot go to this year’s Christmas play next year. You cannot read today’s bedtime story tomorrow. You don’t get a second chance to see them cycle unaided for the first time and find their own balance. These are fleeting moments. You can choose to be fully immersed in them or you can let them slip through your fingers. So as each such moment approaches, one needs to choose wisely.
Children only start school once. It’s one of the most important moments in anyone’s life and it’s equally important for parents. It’s a moment of letting go, of accepting that our little ones are starting to live their own, independent lives. That’s why we have decided to make the day a child starts school or pre-school a paid holiday for their parent. It stems from our fundamental belief that work and our wider lives are not separate but intimately intertwined, and we want our people to know that we understand that the special moments in their children’s lives are important to us too.
Mikko Kärkkäinen, Group CEO
Mikko was the driving force behind the company’s inception. He is responsible for RELEX’ day-to-day operations and relationships with customers, and is famous for his shameless laugh. Mikko relaxes by playing sports and is a keen cyclist and tennis player. However, his most time-consuming hobby is cross-country skiing and he’s even completed the gruelling 440km “Border to Border” race across northern Finland.