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Is the work-life balance a myth?

Sharon Florentine | July 8, 2014
In theory, the concept of "work-life balance" seems to make sense – splitting your days and weeks between a collaborative and connected working life while also enjoying personal activities and leisure time with friends, family, pursuing hobbies, exercise or just watching TV.

In theory, the concept of "work-life balance" seems to make sense splitting your days and weeks between a collaborative and connected working life while also enjoying personal activities and leisure time with friends, family, pursuing hobbies, exercise or just watching TV.

"The idea behind "work-life balance" is to offer a connected and social work environment that fosters creativity and career fulfillment whether engaging remotely or from an office and also allow for a well-rounded personal life outside of professional responsibilities," says Ajay Kaul, managing partner of AgreeYa Solutions, a secure mobility and collaboration platform solution.

"In laymen's terms, in the traditional sense, 'work-life balance' means having 40 hours of work followed by unconnected weekends and employees' share of allotted work leave," Kaul says.

Work-Life Balance is a Myth

But what if everything you thought you knew about work-life balance was a myth? Alexander Kjerulf, founder of Woohoo, and an international thought leader and author on topics relating to happiness at work, says he believes "work-life balance" as it's traditionally defined doesn't actually exist anymore.

"Traditionally, we see work and life as competing activities fighting for our time," Kjerulf says. "There's work and then there's 'free time,' implying that work is not free. And the term balance implies that more work automatically means less life. But where I take issue with that is we only have one life we just happen to live some of it while working and some of it engaged in other activities," he says.

The traditional concept of work-life balance is inaccurate because the evolution of global, knowledge-driven businesses has diminished geographical boundaries and made time zones irrelevant, says AgreeYa's Kaul.

Consumers expect 24/7/365 service and support, and most enterprises either have already moved to embrace mobility or are making the transition to workforce mobility to enable a more connected, always-on and engaged workforce, Kaul says.

The New Definition of Work-Life Balance

"The modern concept of work-life balance is focused on offering employees the flexibility to work anywhere, anytime — leaving fewer fixed working hours and more project-driven or service-level deadlines and opportunities for ongoing streams of innovation and communication between team members," Kaul says.

The emergence of cloud-based IT infrastructure and the prevalence of bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies now allows employees to work from home or remotely and seamlessly continue collaborative efforts with colleagues and team leaders, Kaul says.

"With companies of all sizes becoming more dynamic, flexible and accommodating in their use of enterprise social collaboration tools and solutions and BYOD, the 'mobility effect' will continue to cause an overlap of the workforce's professional and personal lives," Kaul says.

Mobility Changed Everything

According to IDC research, the world's mobile worker population will grow to 1.3 billion by 2015. While the explosion of mobility and remote workers and workplaces has enabled a new era of productivity and collaboration, it can have a dark side if employees don't know how and when to disconnect from work or are actively discouraged from doing so, says Kaul.

 

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