The work / life balance is over. The life / work revolution has arrived.
Work / life balance ended in 2020. The work / life balance revolution has soared in its place.
Back then, before Covid-19, we struggled to fit a bit of our lives into the work-consuming vortex. We charmingly called this “work-life balance” knowing that such a “balance” was a lie.
Then Covid-19 hit, and we traded our platinum miles to sleep in our own beds, care for our aging parents, and reconnect with our childhood friends. We drank from the well of our cozy, messy, maddening and nourishing lives, only now realizing how thirsty we were for time and experiences without work.
Now that we have felt it, we are not going to give it up.
Yes, many of us can’t wait to get out of our work clothes or head to the office to meet with colleagues around a whiteboard. But this movement is much more important than the debate on working from home.
We changed the math. We looked the work / life balance lie in the eye as we experimented with its mirror equation: work / life balance.
What happened in the Great Experience?
The wisdom of the ages tells us that we are finally back to our place.
The ancient Greeks placed the protection of the house in the goddess Hestia. His job was to keep the home at the center of life. Its fireplace was a source of security and well-being in the house. He brought the family together for warmth, food, light, celebration, and spiritual sustenance. It formed the inner core of well-being.
Whether we gather around the kitchen island for homework or around the TV to watch the big game, our modern desire for a home persists. We intuitively understand the feeling that our home needs a “center” – a gathering place that offers comfort, warmth and friendliness.
When we connect to this core within ourselves, we access what I call our “wellness center”. The space of safety, warmth and well-being symbolized by the old home now shines in us.
But will the job get done?
This is the modern world – not ancient Greece. The equation must balance. If we switch the variables to Life / Work, will we stifle productivity?
Studies over the past 18 months have shown that flexible working arrangements do not significantly affect business productivity. This new way of working actually increased productivity by 5% as workers adopted new technologies and spent less time commuting, according to a study of 30,000 Americans by researchers at the Becker Friedman Institute for Economics at the University of Chicago.
Less tangible but more fundamental than avoiding traffic and the advent of Zoom is this revolutionary reversal of the work / life balance. The opportunity to come back to our metaphorical home – to put life first – allows us to recalibrate and prioritize the things that keep us connected to our core wellness.
The Great Resignation shows that the work-life balance revolution is well underway. As reversing the equation becomes the norm, corporate cultures will have to transform to embrace it or they will see their performance aspirations ignite.
The old work / life balance was a lie because there was no room for life. It was all work. The new equation – Work / Life Balance – is true. We live it. We can have both as long as we put our life first and our work second.
It is the life / work revolution of our time.