I hate the term work/life balance. I really do. I think it’s partially because it has been overused, and partially because it implies we are different people at work and home. And, look, we all probably are to some degree. What I do for my job, pays my bills, but has little to do with my education, interests and experience. But I am not a different person. I react to things in the same way. I still have the same feelings and thoughts at work as I do at home.
Both the overuse and the implication our work self and our home self are different bothers me, but not so much as the generic implications of the term in a more HR perspective.
I think that work life balance means the same thing to all of us. We want our job to meet the needs of our lives.
However, what that looks like in reality is quite different to each of our individual situations.
I’m tired of flexible work being seen as the domain for parents only. What about those with chronic health issues? People who are carers for elderly parents?
For crying out loud, don’t we have an ageing population in Australia? Who do employers think are assisting family members who do not need or want full time aged care? These things all exist on a scale; we’re not 100% healthy and independent, and then 100% aged and need 24/7 assistance.
And I’m not the only person who has experienced this lack of flexibility. It’s absurd that in a technological age, there is fear over flexibility and remote work.
I’ll jump in and be my own devil’s advocate here (because the internet seems to think that if you don’t mention x or y, then you haven’t thought about it at all). Of course not all jobs have immediate and obvious options to flexibility. I imagine it’d be bloody difficult to perform surgery while working from home.
All people really need to do is be willing to have a conversation that questions “but that’s how it has always been done”. If a shift at a job is 12 hours, why can’t it be done by two people for 6 hours each? Is the risk in doing that genuine, or are people worried just because it might be new?
Over my working life, I’ve often needed flexibility. Most of the time, it has been denied. Sometimes it has been for me, to rest and recuperate from health issues (usually caused by my now defunct tonsils). Other times it has been to attend medical appointments with Ben. But what… if you don’t have kids, how can you be a carer?!
DOES NOT COMPUTE.
I swear that has been the response from some people. Not out loud, but going through their head.
Just because a person’s experience is outside the very narrow norm doesn’t mean that you can’t genuinely think about it for a moment.