Goodbye work-life balance, hello work-life blend?

Goodbye work-life balance, hello work-life blend?

Imagine you’re sitting in the garden on a warm evening with friends.  The flowers are in bloom and you’re sipping wine, thinking about nothing but this moment.   Then your boss calls.  That’s work-life blend.

#Work-life balance is the idea that one’s professional and personal lives are vying for supremacy, but essentially distinct.  You might have spent too much time at the office, but you never took work home with you.

#Work-life blending removes that distinction.  Work and home are the same thing.   While at first sight that seems terrible (‘What, you mean I’m always at work?‘), advocates of the concept say it’s about understanding that success and happiness in one feeds the other.

In a Huffington Post article on the issue, there’s an interesting quote from an interview on the subject:

Work-life balance comes from a baseline assumption that work is outside of life.  It doesn’t feed it, it doesn’t intersect. It’s something that you need to stop doing because it’s something that exists purely so you can feed life.”

But here’s what I’ve noticed about the people who prefer work-life blending rather than balance: they’re self-employed or high-ranking and/or work in fields they really care about.  I’d argue it’s easier for them to be happy about working more often, because they feel they are in charge of their own destinies.

However, if you’re lower down the office totem pole, how are you supposed to feel happy about having to work on summer nights when you’d rather be relaxing with a beer and a burger?  Perhaps that’s up to your boss.

If employers want people to work longer hours, to be always available, perhaps the answer is to give them projects that excite and challenge them and that they control. 

It’s the autonomy that makes the difference. And that helps to make work-life blending a less scary option.

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