There is already a lot of research on the effects and the changes caused by Covid 19. A one part of the Balance Project is to give faces for these changes. We have interviewed women from partner countries. The interviews are the core of Balance Library of Experiences.
Covid 19 forced to change different practices at work. Now many of these practices are here to stay. Work is more flexible and technology is utilized as a normal part of work. Remote work is much more in common than it was before the pandemic. Less time is used for travelling and this can be a big thing even if you are working at the office and having meetings inside the same city:
“Many things are easier than before. A 90-minute face to face meeting would be half a day meeting, if you have to travel to the meeting in metropolitan area. Now these meetings are often online and you save a lot of time.”
Digitalization brings also challenges for digital well-being:
”You have to be aware all the time: There might be new tasks via different channels any time and you have to follow all of them.”
Many managers have recognised this challenge and are trying to tackle it:
”You have to ponder what media and tool to use for different purposes. As a manager you have to think what is effective and good for your workers.
Project results will support change and your well-being!
The Balance Project results are now in construction and testing phase. In the end of the project the following results will be available:
During the second meeting of the ERASMUS+ program "Balance" that took place in Athens, Greece, we discussed the implementation of Project Results 1, 2 and 3. Generally, the project Balance aims to provide high-quality and appropriate resources to empower women to share and validate their experiences during the pandemic and empower employers and workplace leaders to take ownership and support their staff in a meaningful way, resulting in shifting the support burden solely from women.
During the meeting, there was an open discussion regarding the Library of Experiences and the finalization of the videos, the national adaptation with the use of subtitles and the dissemination of Project Result 1. We were able to conclude on a timetable regarding the completion of the Project Results and organize our next meetings, both in person and online. It is expected for the next and final meeting to occur in Brussels in September to discuss the final details of the project.
For the implementation of Project Result 2, we discussed openly about the Guide and its final adaptations in order to move forward with its finalisation and the national pilots in each country. The partners, after they adapt the Guide's content to their national context, will test it with 16 participants, one of them being a team manager. Additionally, the partners will collect digital resources to develop an Interactive Digital Map with resources, such as podcasts, videos, articles and other tools, to enhance their competences and ensure a healthy work-life balance.
Regarding the Project Result 3, after brainstorming on the topics, we concluded on the division between the partners for the development of the content. Drawing from these observations and many others that were brought upon us, we decided that the topics of the Balance Online Course will revolve around Managing a remote team and work-life balance, Organisational and individual Responsibilities, What is Digital Wellbeing and why does it matter?, Catering for a diverse team with differing needs and Collaborative Working. Finally, the leader of the Result, the European E-learning Institute from Denmark, will provide the partners with the necessary Learning Objectives for each Module, in order to structure the content in a way to ensure that we will reach the agreed goals of the Balance Online Course.
We are pleased with the outcome of the meeting and the positive atmosphere held throughout this two-day meeting. All representatives showed interactivity and were highly motivated to reach the goals of our project.
We thank all the partners for their visit and for attending this meeting. It was an excellent opportunity to listen to each partner's views on the project, evaluate its progress, and inspire the next steps of its implementation.
The COVID-19 impacted on the hole society, however some collectives suffered the consequences on a deeper level due to their vulnerable position. This is the case of women in general, who had to cope with taking care of others and performing their working tasks in one unique environment: home.
The Balance project focuses on the difficulties that women encountered to balance private life with work life and how they have adapted to this challenge. The economic fields that where more negatively impacted by the Covid are the sectors in which we find a higher percentage of women. In addition, the rapid implementation of the remote work increased their burn out as it is a difficulty to combine it with the unpaid labour that (most of the time) fall on them.
The project is not only targeted to women, but also to their employers and adult educators. Balance aims to support and equip women and their workplace leaders for a better managing of the work-life balance. Through high quality and accessible learning materials to their users, it is intended to provide them with the sufficient tools to achieve a healthier digital lifestyle. Targeting adult educators has the aim to upskilling their competences on digital balance education.
Tallinn University, from Estonia, is coordinating this project in collaboration with 5 other European partners: Turun yliopisto - University of Turku (Finland), eucen (Belgium), European E-Learning Institute (Denmark), Momentum Educate + Innovate (Ireland) and KMOP (Greece).
The projects started in November 2021 and will finish in November of 2023. The tools developed by this project are three:
In summary, the Balance project will support and equip women and their workplace leaders to better manage work-life balance, improving digital balance and managing techniques for reducing stress and anxiety within the modern working world.
Erasmus+ grant 2021-1-EE01-KA220-ADU-000028237
On 29th March 2023, The Work-Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Bill 2022 was passed by the Irish government and now goes to be signed into law.
The Work-Life Balance Bill which has been called a gamechanger in terms of employee rights in Ireland gives employees the right to request remote working and will also see the introduction of a significant raft of family-friendly measures including:
The legislation will make it easier for workers to combine their professional and personal lives and puts an emphasis on family supports with the introduction of a statutory entitlement to carer’s leave, the right to request flexible and remote working, and makes breastfeeding breaks a reality for women returning to work from maternity leave.
Commenting on the Bill, Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Roderic O’Gorman said: “The Work-Life Balance Bill represents a significant advance in workers’ rights in Ireland. It recognises the importance of family life and an improved quality of life for all workers, by supporting employees to achieve a better balance between their home lives and work lives.”
Employers and employees will make and consider requests for flexible or remote working under one code of practice developed by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC). The WRC will publish its Code of Practice setting out guidance for employers on how best to consider and manage remote and flexible working requests. Once signed into law by the President, there will be an obligation on the employer to consider both the needs of employees and theirs when assessing a request. A complaint can be taken to the WRC where an employer has not complied with the code.
This code will follow a similar template from the Code of Practice for the Right to Disconnect which was created in 2021 and refers to an employee’s right to be able to disengage from work and refrain from engaging in work-related electronic communications, such as emails, telephone calls or other messages, outside normal working hours.
Both the Balance Project and Work-Life Balance Bill are significant steps in empowering women and their employers to better manage work-life balance. While the practical application of the law has yet to be fully realised, it is hoped that it will ultimately go a long way in ensuring that employees feel valued and supported, which can only lead to a more productive and happier workforce.
“My mind is like my internet browser; 19 tabs are open; 3 of them are frozen; and I have no idea where the music is coming from.”
You have probably seen the above quote doing the rounds, and it’s very relevant to people working from home.
The pandemic changed our whole way of life, children were home-schooled, events were cancelled, meetings were conducted via zoom, and the majority of work was carried out digitally.
Now that things are coming back to some kind of normality, it’s clear to see that the work-life balance has been disrupted. Some employees are bombarded with emails, text messages, and the pressure to be always on, especially when it comes to social media.
Here are 5 tips to promote digital wellness
To discover more suggestions check out Tech Target: https://www.techtarget.com/whatis/feature/10-tips-to-promote-digital-wellness-in-the-workplace
The Library of Experiences of the Balance project constitutes a collaborative online space especially for women affected by the pandemic, where they can share their work-life balance related stories and needs.
As part of The Library of Experiences case studies will give insights into real life experiences of employed women, adult educators, learners and individuals in general working remotely and how the pandemic affected their work-life balance.
The experiences captured are those from individuals who had never worked in a remote format before Covid-19 and that in March 2020 had to adapt to this situation. It will be specially interesting to interview individuals who do not live alone and are responsible from other members of the family. How have they managed to balance work and private life?
If you are interested in further information of the case study, here you can access the case study template.
Momentum delivers over 50 vocational education training (VET) programmes and workshops and trains over 600 people per annum through classroom training courses and thousands of others through blended learning and online courses. Momentum also has a strong marketing division specialising in content generation, digital media and social media.
Momentum leads the Quality Impact and Evaluation on project BALANCE. Their quality system is learner-centric and based on the standards and procedures promoted by Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI), the official accreditation board in Ireland for VET and Higher Education. As well as delivering training, Momentum is deeply involved in course curriculum and content development and has numerous new courses accredited or pending accreditation with QQI in digital, creativity and innovation. Some recent projects in the digital sector as well as well-being and female empowerment projects include Digital Crossroads, WeRin, Teach Digital, Include Her and Digital Balance.
The Momentum team is at the forefront of entrepreneurship education and policy contributions in Ireland. Momentum’s specific competencies relate to the design and delivery of innovative programmes for learners in digital and entrepreneurial skills development. They provide practical opportunities for adults and SMEs through the provision of training and opportunities to develop entrepreneurship skills which provide a route to business creation and business growth; while entrepreneurial thinking encourages innovation and resilience in all spheres, personal and professional. As our EU economy and society undergoes transformation, these qualities are important for all people and in particular project BALANCE.
Orla Casey – Founder of Momentum since 2003
Orla is an experienced entrepreneur and passionate connector of people. A business graduate who completed further studies in the areas of European Law and Economics and Marketing, she is a sought-after researcher and facilitator, regeneration specialist and application writer. Working with public and private organisations, Orla brings a clarity of thought and direction to the design and delivery of multi-million regenerative economy strategies and initiatives in Ireland. A mother to twins, she is an extraordinary multi-tasker who demonstrates strong leadership and support for her 24 staff.
Samantha Carty – EU Project Specialist
With a B. Sc. Communications, TU Dublin, a Professional Diploma in Digital Marketing, and a Certificate in Psychology, Maynooth University, Samantha uses her skills and experience in communications and client services to proactively share and promote the work of Momentum’s Knowledge Alliances projects. Her work was recognised with a #SocialEUAward for Best Editorial Plan for Social Media Dissemination on WeRin, a project working to increase the share of female graduate entrepreneurs. Based in county Roscommon she loves to spend time with her rescue collie dog and her two daughters.
For more information on Momentum: Momentum - Business Consulting and Marketing Services (momentumconsulting.ie)
A survey has confirmed that the increase in unpaid care work and teleworking has hit women's work-life balance and mental health.
The Covid-19 pandemic prompted a surge in telework in many European countries. During 2020, the first year of the pandemic, telework increased drastically.
Teleworking percentage by gender in the EU
The highest share of the people working from home in the EU is in Finland (25.1%), Luxembourg (23.1%), Ireland (21.5%), Austria (18.1%) and the Netherlands (17.8%).
Increased work-life balance issues for women - facts and figures
The higher flexibility and autonomy associated with telework often result in more work and longer working hours, which affects the work-life balance. During the pandemic teleworking posed many challenges for workers when it came to the organisation of working time, work–family balance, well-being, and the physical work environment.
How women and men perceived work-life balance during the COVID-19 pandemic
The pandemic affected many people, but the latest data shows that women were affected more than men. Data collected in February and March 2021 shows that 7.4% of women and 5.7% of men found it hard to concentrate on a job because of family responsibilities. The numbers are even higher for people teleworking full-time, with small children at home (27% women, 19% men). Work is not the only thing that has been affected. About 31% of women and 22% of men who are teleworking full-time, with small children at home, said that their work prevented them from giving the time they wanted to their family.
To find out more on how Covid-19 has affected women’s work-life balance, click https://www.eureporter.co/politics/european-parliament-2/2022/03/09/teleworking-unpaid-care-and-mental-health-during-covid-19/
Since the start of the pandemic, women have been most likely to feel worried about missing friends and family (44%), anxious and stressed (37%) and generally concerned about their future (33%). There is a consistent view among women that the measures enacted to stop the spread of the pandemic have had a major impact on their own mental health.
We were reflecting on the impact of the COVID-19 restrictions on women. Two years on, we are in a better place when it comes to the pandemic. But now is the time to apply some of the lessons we have learned from that experience.
For example, work-life balance should not be a choice between a successful career and a fulfilling family life. The pandemic has reminded us all of the value and benefits of time with family. Parents should be able to feel like they can continue to have a better balance in their lives, and the government is committed to introducing measures to support this.
The impact of the (short and longer term) socio-economic effects of COVID-19 fall disproportionately on women. Women are much more likely to work in sectors which have been negatively impacted by Covid such as personal or retail services, and in addition they are also burdened with pastoral, childcare, and domestic labour. Women also experience significantly higher levels of guilt in relation to work and family life balance, compared to their male counterparts.
The Balance project aims provide high quality and appropriate resources to empower women themselves to share and validate their pandemic experiences and create a hands-on guide, made up of practical materials for resilience and learning to work better within our new digital world. Our project shifts the support burden solely from women, by empowering employers and workplace leaders to take ownership and support their staff in a meaningful way. By creating new upskilling pathways Balance ensures that women are more prepared to deal with the stresses and requirements within our modern world. Not only this but Balance supports those in leadership roles, empowering them to create a culture of support.
We promote a proactive approach, flexible working coupled with dynamic support to ensure the health and mental well-being of staff is not compromised. By affecting change at a leadership level, we aim to ensure high levels of integration and engagement with our resources. The Balance strives overcome the obstacles of pastoral needs for leaders, encouraging a healthy working-life balance for all, and preventing digital drain on staff.
For Managers and workplace leaders who now hold a responsibility for the success of a team who they no longer share an office space with daily, the is a clear need for materials to aid them in the supporting of progressive and effective working. But possibly more urgently is the pastoral management of their staff, in ensuring a reasonable work-life balance, recognising the “at home” stresses which many staff, especially women are subject to. For remote working staff, women specifically, there is a clear need to reduce the pressure on staff, by empowering them to be more “aware” of their digital imbalance, but also by upskilling those surrounding them to support them in a meaningful way.
The European E-learning Institute (EUEI) is committed to providing high-quality learning experiences and innovative educational programmes which engage learners from a range of sectors and socio-economic backgrounds. EUEI is committed to promoting social cohesion, inclusion, and sustainability across Europe, making them a perfect fit for the Balance Project.
Our experienced team of trainers, researchers and technical experts are uniquely placed to guide educators from VET, HEI, Adult and Youth sectors to harness the opportunities that innovative and collaborative e-learning and digital tools offer for learners.
We specialise in the delivering of high quality, responsive and innovative projects to educators and learners in the topics of pedagogic approaches, entrepreneurial competences, digital skills, inclusion, and sustainability.
Meet our Climate Champions at EUEI working on the SFEC project
Canice Hamill- Managing Director
Canice has worked in the field of lifelong education for over 20 years and is recognised as an expert in instructional design and the development of e-learning solutions for education and training. A former trainer and lecturer, Canice utilises a holistic approach to creating innovative, interactive learning environments and works closely with tutors, trainers, and development teams, emphasising the importance of empathy and user experience in every learning solution.
Our Logician -Innovative Inventors with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge
Catherine Neill- European Project Manager
An experienced EU project manager, Catherine is an integral member of our team. She is an effective communicator and has a strong background in areas of Inclusion. The oldest of 5 children Catherine quickly learned how to lead the pack, utilising organisational skills alongside her passion for helping others, she is committed to making the world a more accessible, sustainable, and friendly place.
Our Protagonist -Charismatic and inspiring leaders, able to mesmerise their listeners.
Aine Hamill- European Project Officer
Aine plays an important role in the learning design and subsequently in evaluating the effectiveness of our eLearning products on completion. Aine is always keen to engage with her creative side and implement the newest digital tools, pedagogies, and trends into our e-learning solutions. She is passionate about finding effective and relevant ways to engage learners from all walks of life.
Our Defender-dedicated and warm protectors, able to implement ideas and “create order from chaos”.
Including our key role in the initiation of the SFEC project we will also work tirelessly alongside our project partners to deliver the highest quality project results as possible. Within the project EUEI will develop the project website and be responsible for the technical realisation of the materials.
Learn more about EUEI here:www.euei.dk