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Work-Life Balance is Cliché

Finding work-life balance is one of the most abused clichés in business today. Why? Because there is no such thing as work-life balance in corporate America today. Conventional corporate structures don’t allow for balance, just the illusion of working towards it.

Work is something you do, not someplace you go.
~Woody Leonhard

Work-Life Balance is Dead

Let’s look at the structure of conventional corporate America.   Employees must wake up in time to get whatever household chores need to be done before heading off on their commute to the office.  Depending on where that employee lives, the commute could take anywhere from minutes to a couple hours.  Everyone is rushing to make it to the office by the set start time, when everyone is expected to be at their desks to comply with the “butt in chair” office policy.  Work, work, work until lunchtime, when the lucky employees are allowed to take a lunch break, though in many environments, it’s an unspoken rule that truly dedicated team members eat at their desks while continuing to work.  Work some more, until the designated “quitting time,” which again, may be influenced by the unspoken rule that only slackers leave right at 5 pm.  The dedicated team members stay long past that.  Again with the commute home, just in time to figure out dinner, get the kids settled in for the night, have an hour to do whatever needs doing, then it’s lights out and start the whole process again tomorrow.  Where is the balance?

Get it Together

Kim Shepherd, CEO of Decision Toolbox, believes we should throw out the antiquated concept of work-life balance.  Rather than seeing “work” and “life” as two separate entities on each end of a teeter-totter, we should consider them as being a balance beam…part of the same, solid foundation.

“I have eliminated the word ‘work’ altogether and strive for ‘life balance,'” Kim says (in her book “The Bite Me School of Management”).  “I’ve only got one shot at this life, so I try not to compartmentalize, aim to become more efficient, and leverage technology to blend my work and my life. This does not mean my work has become my entire life. It means I have reinvented myself as a leader of a virtual company.”

It’s Not About Logistics

Some might argue that because Decision Toolbox is a 100% virtual company, where all team members work from home offices, it’s all too easy for us to be simplistic about the concept of work-life balance.  While it’s true that working from home allows us to throw in a load of laundry while on a conference call, or squeeze in a workout on our lunch break, the truth is that working from home requires discipline.  When the office is 10 steps away at all times, we can, and do, end up working at all hours.  The difference is…it’s our choice to work when it works for us, not when the clock tells us we’re supposed to be working.

Being virtual is a logistics benefit for sure, but more importantly, work-life balance is also a cultural mindset.  From the top down, Decision Toolbox is committed to life balance.  That means we are not just able, but encouraged, to take ownership of our jobs.  As long as the work is getting done, nobody is looking over your shoulder to see when you’re doing it.  Work-life balance, or life balance, is a way of life at Decision Toolbox, and is deeply ingrained in our culture.

Why it Matters

If you’re looking for a way to turn your clock-punchers into highly engaged employees, take a look at your culture.  Does it really encourage work-life balance?  Or is it lip service?  Employees are highly engaged when their personal and professional values complement and support one another.  This is especially important for Gen Y, who value flexibility in their lives.  We should take a lesson from them.  They watched their parents struggle on the teeter-totter and learned that it doesn’t work.  Instead, they expect a holistic approach to work and life.  This includes work schedules, telecommuting, home-office arrangements, and dress code.

“A” leaders won’t get “A” players just by offering the highest pay, the shortest commute or the coolest water cooler. Instead, they’ll attract them by allowing employees the space to incorporate their personal and professional lives into one cohesive, meaning-driven life.


To learn more about Decision Toolbox, please contact us – we’d love to hear from you!

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