The New Work-Life Balance

A few weeks ago I participated in a challenge at work to reinvent the way we work.  Below is what I posted….

I am often told by Generation Xers and Baby Boomers what Millennials are, what they aren’t, what they value, what they are good at, and what they aren’t good at.  Unfortunately, I am rarely asked my opinion.  So for those of you that might wonder, but haven’t asked yet, let me give you one perspective on what this Millennial values.

Let me be a bit hypocritical and provide my perspective of how Baby Boomers define work-life balance. It seems to me that Baby Boomers view work-life balance as an accounting exercise.  Of course, “balance” is dependent on the individual but most seem to do the accounting the same:  Time spent at work is listed as a “debit” and time at home is a “credit”.  The individual, with input from the individual’s bosses and family, decide how much time is spent on each to find the right “balance.”

This millennial is not interested in work-life accounting. To take this one step further, I do not even view work-life as two separate things.  I do not want to go to a job that makes me feel like I’m not alive, then go home to “accrue” enough time to repeat the process tomorrow.  That sounds really exhausting and likely to failure when one part of the equation requires more attention.  Work is a part of my life (a part that I really love!), but in order to make this work for me, life needs to be a part of my work.  What does this mean in practical terms?…

  • I want to text my wife and friends at work, “like all the time, lol”
  • I want to Facetime my daughter
  • I am not willing to miss bedtime more than two-nights in a row
  • I am almost always willing to work from home after my daughter goes to bed
  • I love Flexible work times and I will never abuse it.
  • I am usually too busy to work the weekend (laptops are not Hiking Trail friendly), but I am happy to do so when really necessary.
  • You can call me anytime that I am awake (vacations, weekends, holidays, I really don’t mind)
  • but, I would prefer that you text me, since it allows me to control how I work it into my day
  • Also, email me anytime, but you shouldn’t expect me to drop everything immediately.
  • You should tell me when you need things done, especially if you send something on the weekend or evenings.
  • I am going to check my email constantly.  (Thank you iPhone!)
  • I don’t mind always being connected. I will ignore my phone when I need to.
  • You should expect emails from me all the time (3 AM, yep.  7 AM on Saturday, yep.  Midnight on Christmas Eve, yep).
  • I want to check my personal email at work, as well as, take care of any other personal matters when they need addressing.
  • If I am at my desk, I will have headphones on. (Got to listen to my jams, Bro!)
  • I am glad that I can order dinner at work
  • I do not like it when you track how much time I am at work, because this is not a good predictor of how much work I am getting done.
  • I wish I could take naps at work.  This would really make late nights and long afternoons easier.
  • On-site services, such as cleaners, convenience stores, and health centers greatly improve work-life balance

Preparing for a great trip in Banff National Park, Alberta

Preparing for a great trip in Banff National Park, Alberta

A few broader themes:

  • Most companies value diversity, but sometimes it feels like we employ a narrow definition.  We want folks from different backgrounds (age, race, gender, nationality), but once we get here we are all expected to dress and behave the same way.  Diversity only works if you are making a mixed salad; everything tastes the same in a vegetable stew
  • I want to be able to have fun with my co-workers at work (safe for work fun, of course) and I want to be able to discuss work with my friends and family.
  • Most importantly, I want to be allowed to be myself always. Work is a big part of my life, I don’t like it when my family gets annoyed when I talk about it.  My life does not end when I get to work, I don’t not want to pretend to be someone different when I get here.