Recently CIO asked, “Is the Work-Life Balance a Myth?” Unlike many that regard technology as the primary cause of imbalance, the author and experts in the article deem it the champion for perfect harmony between work hours and free time.
The disappearing divide between our work and personal lives is in fact reality, but to take this one step further, is the very concept of “work-life balance” itself an obstacle to happiness and satisfaction for employees?
Rethinking “Work-Life Balance”
It’s fascinating and enlightening when we acknowledge how much language impacts our lives. The words we repeat in our own daily stories, with all of their connotations and associations, heavily influence the way we feel about our day-to-day surroundings and routines.
Consider the term “work-life balance.”
Google “work-life balance” right now. You’ll probably see productivity tips, how to relax more, how to say no, how to better prioritize, the best places to work for flex time, etc. The general ideas are all the same: we have too much to do in the day and we need to find ways to speed through the “work” to get to the “life” part.
When we use this as a mantra for our professional goals, we reinforce our negative attitudes about work. Under this notion, work is something unpleasant, a necessary evil, and we must sacrifice hours of our lives to hard work in order to enjoy the good things in life.
What if, radically, we eradicated “work-life balance” from our daily vocabulary? Instead, let’s adopt “work-life integration,” or even forgo the division altogether and just talk about living more meaningful lives every hour of the day.
Technology and the Possibilities of Work-Life Integration
What troubles many employees about technology and work-life balance is that work can easily bleed into our free time, but the opposite is true as well. Mobile collaboration, flex work and telecommuting offer us the flexibility to integrate what we love to do after 17:00 into our entire day.
We can take a walk while we’re on a mobile meeting, we can go running on our breaks if we’re working from home and we can adjust our hours to pick up the kids. When we stop talking about work-life balance and embrace the assimilation of what were once two divided concepts, we realize we can start actually enjoying the workday and maybe even find our flow at work.
Making Work Worthwhile
According to CIO, in order to maintain the balance we also need to start making our free time more meaningful. The same is true for work, and technology can help that happen.
Technology helps us trim the fat and the slowdown and allows us to focus on the substance at work. Instead of sorting through emails, we can collaborate in shared spaces. Instead of filing in for long meetings, we quickly meet online. The result: business becomes less about the tedious tasks and more about creativity, innovation and purpose.
Perhaps this burgeoning world of connectivity will help us redefine work itself as something that fulfills us, something that satisfies our needs and something that we look forward to doing. After all, whether you’re spending eight hours a day or slogging away far beyond the 40-hour work week, it’s a significant chunk of your time you could be relishing — instead of just working for the weekend.