With the evolution of our connected world, it seems harder than ever to maintain the fabled “work-life balance.” Carving out an uninterrupted span of time to commit to one obligation is nearly impossible as it grows progressively easier to stay in touch with others at all times.
In fact, a lot of workers have been deciding to ditch the idea of work-life balance altogether and instead prefer the new concept of a “work-life blend.”
Work-life blend is fairly self-explanatory: it’s about having the capability to seamlessly switch from your work life to your personal life depending on what’s required of you during the day, regardless of the hour of the day.
Popularized by Millennials, generations expert Ryan Jenkins further explains the work-life blend in a recent Inc. article:” “Millennials want work-life balance to be fluid, free, and flexible to prioritize whatever (work or life) is most important that day. To them, work-life balance means not having rigid boundaries between work and life. A more fluid approach ensures less stress.”
And I have to agree with this sentiment: our days should be more flexible, not only to alleviate stress, but because we have the capability to do so with technology. With collaboration technology always within arm’s reach, I can log into my work server from just about anywhere: from home, at a café – I can even work from my smartphone if I have the right database permissions and a secure connection.
This all brings me around to this post’s millennial perspective: with technology making it easier for colleagues to be more productive, should we stop trying to achieve the perfect work-life balance and encourage a work-life blend instead?
To understand how to implement a work-life blend that works for all parties, I chatted with Tech Data Human Resources Business Partner, Jen Whoolery. Jen has a special role within the company that allows her to see the many benefits of a work-life blend – she’s a completely remote HR representative who handles human resources between the company and its remote colleagues.
“The more people we’re bringing in [to Tech Data], the more we see flexible scheduling and work-life blending proposed at the company,” Jen said. “Younger generations want to get the job done, get it done right and have the time for their own lives after that work is done. In the past, people definitely worked hard, but to some, that extra effort came with sacrificing important life events. With this current change in mindset, Millennials are really teaching us there’s much more to the world outside of work. It’s important to have life experiences, as well.”
To anyone looking to incorporate a more blended approach to their work, Jen offers the below tips to help ensure a seamless transition.
Understand the role you’re trying to blend: “Some people assume you can flex all roles, but that’s not always the case,” Jen states about misconceptions of the work-life blend. She recommends that those looking to implement a more blended approach should ask themselves a few things first. One, can the role’s schedule be more flexible? Think about the time requirements of the job. Are the hours stated, negotiable? Second, consider the technology your company has to keep you connected – whether it’s a company chatroom, a connected phone system or video collaboration tools. Finally, evaluate management’s expectations of your work and the kinds of work that needs to be completed to give you a more flexible schedule.
Be upfront about your expectations, early on: According to Jen, transparency with the role is key for both the employee and leadership. If you’re a colleague seeking a blended work-life schedule, these conversations should happen as early as possible so the role modifications and requirements can be properly reviewed and discussed among all parties. For managers, set expectations concerning when the work is to be completed and how it should be reported to you, so that productivity is seamless, regardless of whether your colleague is right in front of you or not.
Maintain clear and prompt communication: Once flexible time has been established, both the colleague and management should be clear on due dates and the requirements expected of each other -- and should update these conditions as needed. Overall, Jen recommends getting face time as often as possible. “This method is most recommended, as face-to-face conversations -- whether in person or via a video collaboration tool -- can provide more personal insight, whereas a string of emails or an online chat can’t always serve to the same effect.”
Overall, Jen says that these three standards can help many create a more flexible work-life blend that everyone can get behind. “The more we can show that our colleagues are as responsive as ever, regardless of where they work, the more people will accept the work-life blend,” she says. “With new technology, a steady work ethic and clear communication, we can create another way to get work done that’s beneficial for everyone.”
Want to try the work-life blend at a global corporation like Tech Data? We have some great positions on our careers page that would be a perfect fit for you!
About the Author
Kelly Armstrong is a copywriter for TD Agency at Tech Data. Starting her professional technology journey in 2017 in the sales department at Tech Data, she learned about all the great things the company has to offer to help support the future of tech. Now, she uses that knowledge to help others and enthusiastically describe the latest and greatest technologies available to today’s workforce.