Work-Life. What balance?

Ten years ago ‘work-life balance’ was a conversation held at few workplaces around the world and in Australia. Today talk of ‘work-life balance’ is commonplace, with a sense of urgency.

Personally I find the whole concept of ‘work-life balance’ a little problematic.

If you don’t design your life, someone else will design it for you – and you may not like their idea of balance. Especially if that someone else is a commercial corporation. Because commercial companies are inherently designed to get as much out of you as they can get away with. It’s in their nature and DNA. It’s their legal obligation and duty to their shareholders.

And while they may talk the ‘work-life balance’ talk, going to work on Friday in a jeans and t-shirt is not work-life balance. Giving employees an iPhone is just another way for companies to keep you working even when you’re not at work. Putting childcare facilities into the workplace is just another way for companies to keep you working more and longer at the office; not some sort of New Age HR strategy for enlightened companies.

If you were to design your life, what would your time frame for a good ‘work-life balance’ be?

This is my ‘work-life balance’ time frame. Wake up well rested after a good nights sleep. Walk the dog. Have breakfast with my family. Drive the kids to school on the way to the office. Do 3 hours work. Play sport with a friend at lunchtime. Do another 2 hours work. Meet some mates for a drink. Drive home for dinner with my wife and kids. Meditate for 30 minutes. Walk the dog. Go to bed.

Funny thing is I never have this day. Never ever. Do you?

You see, the thing is that there is no such thing as this sort of ‘work-life balance’. Which is why I’d like to propose an alternative way of viewing ‘work-life balance’.

There is no distinction between ‘work’ and ‘life’ if your ‘work’ is as much a part of your ‘life’ as your ‘life’ is. In other words, it’s all ‘life’. Mondays as good [or as bad] as Saturdays. Fridays as upbeat [or not] as Tuesdays.

This is a world where every person and every job is important; where every day counts; and where every thing you do matters.

Richard Sauerman
Richard Sauerman
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