Lessons Learned

Determining Work-Life Balance in the Digital World

I think you should work more. Let me explain.

In the 1950’s and 1960’s, the average corporate employee was required to do the following:

  • Go into a physical office
  • Clock in and clock out manually
  • Pick up corded desk-phones
  • Work a soul-crushing job in a suit

In today’s world, it isn’t surprising to find an individual that:

  • Works in his sweatpants from home
  • Has email on a mobile phone
  • Has the ability to start work at 11:00 AM and end later, if they need to
  • Play ping-pong at work

Long story short, work and “life” used to have physical boundaries that made it easy to distinguish where you were on the work-life balance continuum. Stay long hours at the office, and you were a work-a-holic. Stay long hours at home, and you probably weren’t going to move up the corporate ladder. Today, the line is blurry.

Let’s talk about a few factors that make the line blurry and how i’d rate their impact on work-life balance in today’s world. The way I will calculate work-life balance is with what I call the Work-to-Life ratio. Here’s the equation:

 

(Hours Working) x (Efficiency Multiple)

________________________________

(Hours “Life-ing”) x (“Lack of Stress” Multiple)

 

A couple of assumptions:

  • Your life is balanced if your ratio equals 1 (i.e. the numerator is the same as the denominator)
  • The total number of usable hours in a day is 16 (8 goes to sleep)

With that, let’s look at some factors.

Working Remote

Are you kidding me? You can work in the comfort of your chair at home? Or at a Starbucks? In your PJ’s? Next to your dog? This factor in-itself should reduce the stress related to long commuting, wearing suits, eating unhealthy, and missing your dog.

Affect on Equation: Lack of Stress UP

 

A Work Phone

A work phone increases both the efficiency of your work and the stress of work. You become more efficient because you can be in contact with a client or coworker anytime, anywhere. You can also become more stressed-out because you can be in contact with a client or coworker anytime, anywhere. As such, the impact of a work-phone really impacts the work-life balance equation towards the work side of the continuum.

Affect on Equation: Efficiency UP, Lack of Stress DOWN

 

Flex-Time

Working when you want to work is a nice perk – it allows working parents the ability to step out of the office to attend a child’s piano recital, or extend a lunch with a relative that’s in town. I’d be inclined to say efficiency would go down because people wouldn’t be working on the same clock, and hours might get rounded up, but I’ll let that be a caveat.

Affect on Equation: Lack of Stress UP

 

Random Perks at Work

Ping Pong, Free Meals, and Laundry Service are among many of the perks that companies provide their employees today. A lot of the daily chores and stresses of home have been outsourced to the employer. Not sure what the financial impact this has for companies, but from an employee standpoint, I’d say this reduces stress immensely.

Affect on Equation: Lack of Stress UP

 

There are plenty of other factors that could affect my silly little equation, but I’ll stop here. It’s clear that what characterizes work and “life” has changed as a result of technology for the companies that have embraced it. A lot of the above really is my opinion, but I’ll end with an even more opinionated statement:

If your job has a lot of the characteristics mentioned above, I’d say you have a pretty sweet gig that, more likely than not, is a more “balanced” job in comparison to the jobs of the previous generation. I know my job is, and I’m grateful for it.

So, yeah. Work more.

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