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Spotlight on Sean Michaels of Obsidian Property Management: Work-Life Balance Is Possible

Lauren Marinigh | October 1, 2015

After a few years of working for a business that was more focused on profit than care of their employees or clients, and watching countless people burn out from being overloaded with work, Sean Michaels decided it was time to start his own business in the field of property management.

Obsidian Property Management Ltd. in Surrey, British Columbia wanted to focus on the people and make sure their structure and systems supported the employees. By having smaller portfolios of clients per manager, and more administrative support, Sean has turned Obsidian into a place that benefits both his employees and clients.

Recently Sean won the Surrey Board of Trade’s Child and Family Friendly Workplace Award, honouring Sean’s dedication to develop a workplace that believes in work-life balance and understands the importance and benefits of allowing employees to enjoy a life outside of work. Obsidian did this by offering its employees unlimited vacation and sick days, giving staff the ability to access the workplace virtually, and letting them bring children and/or pets to work.

As a workplace that clearly understands and models work-life balance, it’s important for Sean to also live this lifestyle, even though, like many entrepreneurs, he always has work to do! Sean emphasized that entrepreneurs and employers need to realize life does follow a punch-clock, and to trust their employees when they punch out for the day.

Sean explained his reasoning for finding balance with work and life. He told us that he does what he can to help his clients, but at the base of it, he really does it to take care of his family and himself and if he’s never home and always at work, he’s not taking care of his family or himself. “Time is linear, there is no amount of money that will let you rewind it,” Sean said. “Put the business down every now and then and spend time doing something fun, it will help you keep perspective on the business.”

Balancing work and life hasn’t always come easy to Sean. Like many entrepreneurs, he’s had to learn over the years and still says he is on call 24/7 for his clients. Sean explained how the digital age has really changed the way we manage work-life balance. “The technology that assists me to do my job better creates a continual link to work. Compile that with the instant service attitude of clients [who are] used to texting, email and smartphones… it never stops.”

So we asked Sean what the trick is. How can entrepreneurs better balance their life on top of their very busy work schedule? Here is what he suggested:

1) Set expectations of when and how you will make yourself available and provide your service/product upfront, to both your clients and employees. Stick to it and never do anything you’re not willing to do again.

2) Keep a shared calendar with your family/friends so you can book meetings and work around upcoming events.

3) Trust people! It’s true that no one will care for your business like you do. However, as business grows you cannot do everything yourself. Build a team of people you trust and that you can leave in charge if needed.

4) Try to stop living by the punch-clock. Some businesses are time sensitive, and need to open shop at certain times. However, by trusting your employees and empowering them to create their own schedules they will be  happier and do more, and the same goes for you.

5) Realize that work and life are not two separate things. Work is part of life. So if you need to get a haircut in the middle of the day, do it! If that means you have to work after the kids are in bed, do that too! Stop seeing work as 9 to 5.

Written By: Lauren Marinigh, Social Media & Content Creation Coordinator, Futurpreneur Canada