Work-Life Balance: Is it ‘Mission Impossible’?

Author: Kim Benjamin       

With events often running late into the night after an early start and requiring constant travel between time zones, it’s easy to understand why industry professionals can struggle to maintain a work-life balance.

Anna Lim

Anna Lim, senior events project manager Asia Pacific at BI Worldwide, said that maintaining a work-life balance in the events industry can seem like “mission impossible.”

That’s especially true because of the seasonality tied to events, with very clear highs and lows where teams can get burnt out or bored.

“After being in the industry for 11 years, either you love it or you hate it,” she said, noting that when the stress that comes with the territory is not managed well, “everything crumbles — this includes your work performance and your personal life.”

Dionne Holder

To keep stress levels in check, Lim suggests that planners always allow time for themselves by working and resting hard, making the best use of any break time, and becoming skilful at multitasking.

“Prepare a to-do list. This will help you to stay more focused and work more productively,” she suggested. “Prioritise — deadlines are often missed as event planners don’t focus on the more important task [at] hand. And keep the passion alive and love what you do.”

For Dionne Holder, managing director China for Freeman, keeping motivated is all about getting enough hours of sleep (in her case seven), and starting the day charged up and ready to go. Holder, for example, does CrossFit, a fitness regimen that focuses on endurance and strength, in the morning.

Scott Cullather

“I also try to book mini-holidays,” she said, adding that “it’s easier to not be disturbed for four days as opposed to two weeks.”

Invnt operates across eight offices, six time zones, five countries, and four continents. How does it operate 24/7 without exhausting the team?

“I advocate for creating a work/life blend, where we never really come in and out of work, we’re never really off the grid, but we’re also able to recognise when we need some rest,” said agency co-founder and CEO Scott Cullather. “We’re able to get the proper blend so we can continue to grow and not burn out.”

Joycelyn Hoh

The agency also has “chill days,” where an employee takes extra time off following a busy event delivery period where they’ve worked longer hours, on weekends, or away from family. They are contactable, but have time to recuperate and manage their personal lives.

Perks can also be motivating. Invnt provides in-office massages following busy periods so employees know they are valued and looked after.

Joycelyn Hoh, director of event solutions and design at BCD Meetings & Events, added that “driving a culture of curiosity by making time for team outings … helps to spice things up and goes a long way towards keeping teams motivated.”

As for herself, she said, “being able to always look at things from various perspectives, the willingness to experiment, and trying something different, keeps me pumped and inspired.”