How the Work/Life Dialogue Evolved Over the Past 10 Years

As I explain why TWEAK IT is an important missing piece of the work flexibility puzzle, I find people are curious about how the work-life dialogue has evolved over the last decade.  Here are my observations from the trenches that I share.

Ten years ago, for most people, walls and clocks still separated work from the other parts of life. Telework and flexible hours were new “bright, shiny,” concepts, but not mainstream. Most people still operated from the mindset that I work Monday-Friday, 9-to-5 pm, in an office.  When I leave the office, it’s my personal time.  Work-life balance primarily, if not exclusively, was discussed as a working mothers’ issue.

Over the past five years, the economic downturn, the rapid spread of mobile technology, the aging population and the “digitally-native” Millennials entering the workplace have transformed our lives on and off the job. The physical and time boundaries that used to divide our work and personal lives disappeared almost overnight.

Telework, flexible hours and even project-based work became common, everyday realities.  But, the change has happened so fast that employers, individuals and the culture haven’t had time to catch up and adapt.

It’s 2013 and businesses still struggle to bring their policies and practices into the 21st Century.  Culturally, we continue to talk about “work-life” primarily as it relates to parents, even though the number of elder caregivers, and working retirees grows exponentially.

Without the clear lines between work and life, we’re not sure how to do our jobs well and get to the gym, meet a friend for coffee, attend a networking event, or even get a haircut.  We fail to communicate and collaborate with each other so what we want to accomplish on and off the job gets done in a way that works for everyone.

We need new everyday work and life management skills.  That’s why I wrote my new book TWEAK IT: Make What Matters to You Happen Every Day(Center Street) and launched the TWEAK IT Together community site.  I wanted to give people a simple, weekly practice to deliberately capture the small actions that build the foundation of well being and order we crave, but that’s missing for so many people today.

How has the way work fits into your life every day changed for you over the last few years?

For more, I invite you to: