The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

Some people live to work. Others work to live. However you look at it, finding balance between the professional and personal sides of life is essential.

Without equilibrium, we cannot realize our full potential at work, and we cannot enjoy being alive. Sure, there are those rare individuals who find such joy in the office that work itself is their singular reason for existing. But, for most of us, a swing of the pendulum too far to the work side leads to burnout, too far to the personal side brings a feeling that we aren’t living up to our potential.

Work–life balance is something we talk about a lot these days. We know that it is needed, but drawing up plans and making it happen are two different things.

We Tokyoites live in one of the world’s busiest cities, in a country renowned for its devotion to the office and grueling work schedules. Among American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) member companies, there is a clear understanding that work–life balance is a must, and many have implemented highly flexible plans and created innovative workspaces that put employee well-being at the center.

As you read through the pages of this issue, you’ll find some examples. I spoke about this to Simone Thomsen, the new president of Eli Lilly Japan K.K., an ACCJ President’s Circle member company, and also to James Feliciano, president of AbbVie G.K., an ACCJ Corporate Sustaining member company.

But while these and other companies are assembling the framework to let us live better lives and be more successful in our jobs, we as individuals aren’t always doing our part. I know that’s true of me.

Whether it’s a product of the culture, an outdated mentality that sitting at a desk in the office equals productivity and results, or a feeling that we must be switched on at all times not to let others down, many of us put extreme pressure on ourselves. This, incidentally, relates to the pharma theme of this issue, because that pressure and the resulting stress can have a serious impact not only on mental health but also on physical well-being.

Companies are changing because they under­stand that healthier, happier employees are more productive, inno­vative, and loyal. Offering options for greater work–life balance also helps them attract the best talent in a highly competitive market.

But they can only do so much. And in this moment of self-reflection, I encourage everyone to take advantage of the opportunities your company pro­vides. Because we only get one chance to share life with friends and family, and to pursue the things we love. And, in the end, those moments make us more ready to do our best work when the pen­du­lum swings to the business side.

Christopher Bryan Jones is Editor-in-Chief of The ACCJ Journal. Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, he has lived in Japan since 1997.