Saturday, May 07, 2011

Work Life Balance: The Oxymoron of the 21st Century?

A number of people, both on our staff and off, who have stopped by my office over the years have often remarked about the fact that I seem to have an awful lot of pictures for such a small office. Indeed, they say I have a lot of them even for a big office! I guess I never noticed or thought that it seemed like picture overkill, although now that I look around I guess I see what they mean. I just counted them and there are 25. That's practically enough for a one man show for Pete's sake.

I guess the behavior gurus would say that all the pictures (wife, kids, vacation spots, grandchilden, etc. are supposed to give off vibes as to my "warm and fuzzy" MBTS profile. What they would say about the one with me dressed up in a court jester costume I have no idea. (We dress up at the office on Halloween, but that's another story) I guess they would just think to themselves "I hope he has outpatient psychiatric coverage" and move on.

In any case, when I look at these pictures now, as much as anything else, they serve to remind me that I undoubtedly spend and have spent, far too much of my life in my office focused on the care and feeding of "my job" than physically being with and caring enough about the people and places those pictures represent.

They remind me too of a profile of ExecuNet that was in the NY Times some years ago. One of the labels they pinned on me in that article was "workaholic". Not exactly my proudest moment.

As the old saying goes, you have never seen a tombstone that says "I wish I had spent more time at the office." However, I am of The Organization Man generation but on reflection, even that feels more like an excuse than a chronological factoid. I’ve learned that work and time with family are not mutually exclusive, but the tipping point is difficult to find, and it is different for everyone. 

What many find encouraging is that over the years, our annual Executive Job Market Intelligence Report survey has revealed that more senior level executives are moving toward simplifying their lives. While certainly 9/11 had much to do with this trend starting, it has not gone away either.

While salary remains the biggest motivator, many respondents also report that relocation, personal growth potential, improved work/life balance, and corporate culture were key factors in job acceptance.

It is going to be interesting indeed to see how these trends develop, particularly as technology continues to make it easier for us to work outside our physical office space.

If this combination really flies, there are a lot of us type A's who will probably think they had found the universal solvent. Or will they?

Are you a teleworker, and if so, what are you finding from the experience that you like and/or don't like?

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