Why We Need to Call It Work+Life “Fit” Flexibility

Brian Reid’s (Rebeldad) post in today’s Washington Post OnBalance Blog–“Flexibility for Those in Less-Than-Flexible Jobs”–confirms, once again, why we need to stop making the objective “work-life balance” and make it “work+life fit.” He discusses how individuals with jobs such as forest rangers, and nurses where your physical presence is required (for the most part) have a harder time achieve work-life balance, and then compares it to the flexibility available to those with technical responsibility can achieve.

Here’s the deal:

• Each and every one of us is going to have a completely different work+life solution depending upon our unique set of work and personal realities–or work+life “fit”. With a forest ranger, there are certain responsibilities and tasks related to that job that will limit some types of flexibility (e.g telecommuting), but could allow another type (e.g. change in how or when they work) outside of the traditional box. The same goes for a nurse. This doesn’t mean their jobs are “inflexible,” in just means the type of flexibility is going to be contextualized to that job. In fact, I’ve helped employees in numerous organizations with jobs traditionally considered “in flexible” find it. Again, it’s how you define what you are trying to achieve.

• An individual’s circumstances will change throughout the countless transitions they experience during the course of their life and career, that “fit” will adjust and change too. Yet, for too many people, “balance” has become a noun. This nirvana destination that they never seem to achieve. When the truth is that managing your work+life fit is a dynamic, everchanging process. And what works for you today may not look anything like what works for the person sitting next to you doing the very same job, or with the very same personal circumstances. This is why defining it as your unique “work+life fit” opens up countless possibilities of what “can” work rather than focusing on what can’t. A for some people, the shared care of kids on different shifts works, for others it doesn’t.

• Bottomline: Each of us must sit down, ask ourselves what we want. Most people don’t even know what that “fit” looks like, so how can they possibility find it? Then, once you’ve figured out what you want look at the tasks and responsibilities of your job. Do they match? What do you have to change? If you can’t change it, how does your work+life fit vision have to change? Then do the same thing for your personal realities. Every nurse, forest ranger, technology expert, etc. can find some type of flexibility–either informal or formal–to achieve their unique “fit”. It’s all about how you define it!!!!

Here’s an interesting example of how a marketing manager at Microsoft, Kris Fuehr, who has found flexibility in a job with a lot of responsibility at a company you wouldn’t by definition describe as supporting “work-life balance.” Through her blog, she is joining in the flexibility conversation. She wants to help redefine the conversation and expand the options people consider, not from an “expert” position, but from the position of someone who is doing it. Check it out. Flex WorkLife: For people who do more than just go to work