I shouldn’t probably say this, since I’m a learning consultant who promotes employee engagement, and strategic planning around how learning supports organizational goals. But here it is – work is work.
Even with employee engagement and even with work / life balance and even with opportunity for professional development, the bottom line reality is, work is work and sometimes our life is outside of it.
However, work is part of one’s life – it is one component that makes someone’s life satisfying, good or possibly remiss. Without work or a job, someone wouldn’t have money and so this would contribute to a negative life.
And though work is work, a challenging, engaging job which provides income (a life need) and it may provide an opportunity and support, for someone to learn and grow. And this is the goal of learning providers (and consultants like me) and hopefully employers. When work provides opportunity to explore one’s interests and to build on existing strengths or develop new ones, work becomes more satisfying and less about being work.
Recognizing that individuals are not one dimensional, that there is more to each of us than what we do at work, but that work is very important because it is part of one’s personal life.
So how will work / life balance change in the future? Now, some of us can leave work to go to personal events, kids soccer games, elder care, doctor appointments - but some employees can’t – such as low wage workers struggling to make a living – where work is only work. But that is a separate post.
Will we, as Millenials begin to infiltrate and take over the work world, be in the office less? Is this their expectation? Will we use technology more to accommodate our working needs? Or can we somehow integrate life and work into one existence?
I recently read a story about two alumni from my alma mater, University of Colorado, who, for over 20 years have merged their work with their life. This was a conscience decision on their part years ago and they’ve managed to maintain it. As restaurateurs they work nontraditional hours and also work as farmers (this is a new addition to their work life) to provide farm to table food for their restaurants. Few of us are lucky enough to merge a work / life balance this seamlessly.
However, it is possible. I think the likelihood of work merging with life will become more common, as Millennials begin to change the work landscape and look to create their own vision of how to live and work.