The New Paradigm of Work-Life Balance
Work life balance has been a construct most working people have been trying to strike, wanting to be able to either have best of both worlds or be in a good spot of being able to do justice to both. In some other spaces, work-life balance stood for being able to preserve emotional and social health outside of workspaces. This started becoming a far-fetched dream or an unrealistic expectation when desktops gave way to laptops – physically meaning that you could ‘carry work home’ or ‘work anytime and from anywhere’. Rather than being used in a manner to now being able to do both or actually coming one step closer to best of both worlds, the fact that one could work from anywhere, there was an implicit expectation that one would need to work from anywhere and at anytime. It is interesting to explore where this expectation comes from. Sometimes it comes from the nature of work that we do, from the culture that the company endorses and sometimes from our own needs or even our insecurities. So when as organizational consultants, we work with leaders and executives who wonder how we can strike work life balance, especially now in the Covid times, when the faint boundaries that previously existed, don’t exist, we bring people back to the source of the problem rather than jump into the solution. We recognize that there is a need to find a new paradigm for work life balance which is beyond an aspiration for an equal weightage on the scale of work life and personal life, and beyond the more accepted work life integration paradigm.
What does the new paradigm need to solve?
This is an important question to answer when we are trying to regain better control as an individual or bringing in change at a team or organization level. Ask yourself what is being compromised with the way we are working now? How sustainable is it? At what cost am I getting the job done?
Why do the older paradigms no longer meet the need?
The way people are looking at work, and what they find satisfying has evolved. With a global crisis that we are facing, people’s priorities and values have undergone a transformation where there is a rejuvenated focus on the worthy. Work has become an extension of our life where it gives one a sense of security, peace and sense of purpose. It also gives one an opportunity to serve and be connected – whether as a leader or as a colleague or as a service delivery to the community.
A paradigm that captures internal motivation over external motivation.
The age-old construct of carrot and stick does not work anymore. So working hard for 5 days of the week for 2 days of a weekend kind of a balancing arrangement doesn’t work. We see more and more people be ok to give up a salary hike gained by jumping companies if their present role gives them autonomy, joy and respect. So when one feels useful and purposeful where they are, they feel work and life to be implicitly integrated without having to make that extra effort.
So, what does the new paradigm look like?
To craft what we can do now, in the present, to live a more complete and not balanced or unbalanced life, the below points can help us create the answers:
- Joy of Work: Rekindle the purpose, enthusiasm and ends that your role/job/position meets for you and your immediate family. Think in more balanced terms regarding what do I give and what do I get, what do I invest and what do I reap, what do I create and how do I impact.
- Joy of Rest: Allow yourself the luxury to rest where it is a physical rest (sleep, break), spiritual rest (do what makes you peaceful) and emotional rest (choose activities that give enthusiasm and fulfillment – individually or socially).
- Joy of Presence: Find meaning in the value of doing one thing at a time with your mindful presence whether it is an email you are responding to, a group strategy you are planning or a meal that you are cooking.
- Joy of Questioning the Status Quo: If older ways of solving problems are not matching the emerging needs, find the courage to ask the right questions in the right way to the right people to create a change.
- Joy of Resilience:
- Not all days are good. Some make you feel you are on top of things, some pass by and some are devastating. Understanding the motions of life like waves that rise and fall, and going back to the anchors in your life that stay constant will help you find the courage and resilience to be ready for the next day.
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Director of Leadership & Learning, Senior Consultant
PhD (Clinical Psychology), MA(Psychology)