Serendipity Labs CEO John Arenas exposed the myth of work-life balance in his recent Fast Company article, and author Dean Douglas follows up with an alternative: It’s not about balance but about integration.
Over the past decade, ‘work-life balance’ was the goal of almost every modern day professional. But what does it really mean? Probably the most common practice of the work life balance concept meant shifting your work schedule a couple of days a week or using paid-time-off to tend to personal events. But is this sufficient for addressing life as we know it today? Truthfully, there is no one-size fits all balance. Every person is different, as is every day. Life is unpredictable, so the right balance for today may be wrong tomorrow.
What we do know is that the needs of today’s professionals warrant more than the traditional ‘work-life balance’ concept, and with the capabilities of modern technology, a new concept of ‘Work Life Integration’ is emerging rather organically. With a highly mobile and ever-evolving business environment, professionals are seeking to optimize both social and work life effectively. In his Fast Company article, Dean Douglas observes that “Professionals in all industries are casting out the notions of work-life balance in order to build better work-life integration practices–where work and life are intertwined–by leveraging technology to make it happen.” He refers to these new age professionals as “anywhere workers”.
Douglas goes on to share how CEO Reed Hastings of Netflix manages business and living. Fittingly, the word ‘melded’ is the word used to describe Hastings approach to work-life. He works remotely in Europe while enjoying his favorite pastime, family time. And while Hastings heads up business from Italy, the California-based company continues to flourish. The success of “anywhere leaders”, like Hastings, may be their ability to “integrate and optimize their talents, time, and abilities to leverage technology to yield their best productivity”, as Douglas puts it.
On the other side of the satisfaction spectrum, a survey performed by Harvard in 2008 revealed that out of 1,000 professionals surveyed, 94% said they were working 50 hours or more a week and almost half worked in excess of 65. “Being overworked is a global pastime that works against our success,” he states, “Work fatigue always leads to being less effective and efficient.” The key is to working smarter, not harder. With this new movement towards ‘work-life integration’, professionals should be using technology to their advantage. This does not mean they have to be accessible 24/7 to everyone at any time, but what it can mean is the ability to work anywhere that allows the “anywhere worker” to be most productive and creative.