Are you striving for work-life balance or is your company encouraging you to seek work-life balance? If so, you are probably on a mission doomed for failure. There appears to be several reasons why work-life balance is a thing of the past. For most people, the 40-hour work week no longer exists. Technology keeps us connected all of the time; we check emails before & after “normal” working hours and on weekends. And not only are we able to answer these emails from home on our laptops but, with no inconvenience to ourselves, we are able to email from anywhere using our phones. Those super cool tablets & fablets have broadened our abilities to work at a moment’s notice even easier. Let’s not forget the Cloud and all of the information available to us that years ago was only available on the company server, housed at the office. Then throw into the mix that many of us work for global companies, or at least we work with people across the country, so we need to communicate with people on different time zones.
In a great article by Ron Friedman, Work-Life Balance is Dead, he writes that separating work from home is a fantasy; compartmentalizing our work and personal life is just not possible. He talks about allowing employees some degree of control over when and where they work. Studies consistently show this motivates employees to work harder, produce higher quality work and develop greater loyalty to their company. Many companies are offering this kind of control, within guidelines, allowing employees to work when they are most productive. Further, realizing that an employee’s life does not consist of the “work silo” and the “personal silo,” some companies are offering employees the ability to take breaks during the day while still “on the clock” to do things like run personal errands and exercise. It is this new concept of work-life integration that is replacing the antiquated ideal of work-life balance. The workplace has changed… dramatically…and companies need to not only recognize this but change the way they operate.
If you are a business owner reading this thinking, “Why do I care?” Friedman sums it up perfectly, “Ultimately, it is companies that are quickest to realize that it is in their financial interests to care for the entire employee –not just the sliver of them that sits in the office for 40 hours a week — that stand to gain the greatest benefits in the form of stronger loyalty, higher engagement, and top performance.”