Date: 20 January 2015
By: André Louw
Instead of focussing all ones energy on separating and individually balancing each facet of life, rather concentrate on integrating these different areas. This is the essence of work/life balance.
There is a substantial amount of information and research available about work/life balance, reinforcing the notion that this trend is significant and will continue to impact HR and people management in business.
More companies are adapting to the ‘new generation worker’ or millennium generation as it is now being referred to. This is a labour force that requires access to information, to systems, to data and to technology to do work without any logistic or other obstacles. As far as this emerging labour force is concerned, when it comes to business governance, the old rules simply do not apply.
Stewart Friedman has earned a reputation for his work and research into ‘work/life integration’. He makes a valid point in the following quote: “The idea that ‘work’ competes with ‘life’ ignores the more nuanced reality of our humanity,” Friedman writes.
In his opinion a better goal is to focus instead on how to better integrate all the different parts of our lives, which will ultimately make us feel happier and more fulfilled—a.k.a. work-life integration.
I subscribe to this idea and acknowledge that there are four key areas of our lives that need to be considered for integration: -
- Work (your job/career)
- Home (spouse, partner, children, and others (even animals) you live with)
- Community (friends, neighbours, social groups, religious institutions, charitable activities, political committees etc.)
- Self (physical and emotional health, intellectual and personal growth, leisure, and spirituality)
Things have certainly changed a lot over the last twenty-to-thirty years in terms of our work-life ‘world’. The dynamics are completely different today and the concept of fixed hours within a specific environment and ‘working hours’ are generally considered outdated. The physical office, as it were, is becoming obsolete as more people subscribe to the notion of being available at anytime and have the means to access data from any location using a variety of technology platforms.
This is what mobility has given us.
Our lives have become a lot more integrated with the Internet and technology, such as smart phones and smart devices, which have changed the way we work and interact with others forever.
No longer do we concern ourselves with office hours or reaching someone when they have some time off or quiet time – today the ability to video conference, expand on cost-free, immediate communication means that it is possible to connect with someone at a moment’s notice.
I believe life has become way too complex to try to separate and ‘balance’ different parts there of … rather identify the aspects which you feel are important and plan a more integrated solution around that.
Work/ life balance is a realistic and feasible proposition – it just requires strategic integration.