New work-life balance

If you look up the history of work-life balance, you will see different points about the origin of the concept. Many credit to Robert Owen, a Welsh producer and “Father of British Socialism“, who decided that labor practices in the early 1800s were too demanding, and so they began to advocate a balanced workday consisting of “eight hours of labour, eight hours of recreation, eight hours of work.” rested. “

In the 20th century, work-life balance became an aspirational lifestyle goal. For anyone who’s ever been busy with busy work and parenting (not to mention taking care of the home), the concept of work-life balance has always seemed like a distant dream: combination of rewarding work and lots of quality time. for family, exercise and sleep. But that’s not how life works, and in a way, this idealized sense of balance has created an illusion that only frustrates those trying to achieve it.

The pandemic seems to make work-life balance a funny concept. When white-collar workers set up workstations at home, there is no longer a separation between work and personal time or space. So we need something new, something more useful, to help us think about balance in our lives.

This is an alternative model. It starts with the idea that every moment falls into one of three categories: wanted, should, or needed. It seems to me that every decision we make begins, implicitly or explicitly, with a sentence that begins “I want…”, “I should…,” or “I need…”. (The last one includes its close cousin, “I have to…”) If you accept these groups, you can then begin to create a pie chart of your life based on that this classification.

How many of your typical days, weeks, or months fall into each of those three categories? How much of your work is spent doing the things you want to do — ideally create a state of flow where your skills and talents align with the task at hand — versus something you rely solely on because you should or need to do them.

There is no right combination, and each individual’s perspective will change over time. When we are in our 20s, we can be more passionate about what we want to do. The same is true later in life, when self-interest may take precedence. It’s the decades in our 30s, 40s, and 50s that can be especially challenging – raising families and building careers, including jobs that serve as stepping stones to more fulfilling roles . Chapters of life that have led to widely cited U-shaped happiness curve.

For me, the three-part pie chart is very helpful in determining if we feel balanced in our lives. And it also helps explain some of the composite narratives of the moment, including “major resignations” and employees’ nagging desire to work from home. All the alone time during the pandemic lockdowns has given people time to consider the meaning of life and caused many to give up on jobs that aren’t meant to be. They’ve decided to prioritize more than what they want, and commuting makes more people feel more like a “should” than a “want”. And companies are also making more of an effort to listen to their employees, conducting regular conflict surveys. Right now, employers are trying to step back to give employees what they want to help recruit and retain employees.

We need a framework for assessing our relationship to real work and more realism in this post-pandemic world than one with work on the one hand and life on the other.

The pendulum may be swinging back. As recession talk heats up and companies come under pressure, CEOs are starting to look like they want to rethink the want-should-need equation and remind everyone that work is called Work for a reason.

Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google’s parent company, wrote a memo to the employee in July, stated that “moving forward, we need to be more entrepreneurial, work with more urgency, focus and hunger than we showed on sunny days.” drier”. This may not change the pie chart for some people — often people want to show more initiative at work and feel thwarted. But it signals a changing mood at Google.

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta, the parent company of Facebook, tell the staff at the end of June, facing the challenges facing the company, they will have to do more with less resources and low performers will not be accepted. “I think some of you might decide that this place isn’t for you, and it’s totally right for me to make that choice,” Zuckerberg said on the call. “In fact, there are probably a lot of people at the company who shouldn’t be here.”

The message is not hidden: work is about what you should do and what you need to do. Bosses are back in charge and they care less about what you want to do or whether you feel purposeful in the work the company is paying you for.

We need a framework for assessing our relationship to real work and more realism in this post-pandemic world than one with work on the one hand and life on the other. In every job, there is always a mix of things you love to do and things you don’t like to do. The same goes for your personal life. What matters is how much time you spend doing the things you want to do, should do, and need to do. That pie chart – wherever you fill it out – will provide a more accurate picture of the balance you need to feel happy, fulfilled, content, and accomplished.

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