A little over a month ago, during Steve Boese‘s HR Happy Hour “Work/Life” episode, a great debate was underway. Steve and his co-host, Shauna, managed discussion around work/life balance and whether that was truly possible. The idea of work/life “blend” was brought up. Guests and callers weighed in on whether flexibility was possible in today’s work environments, if the need for flexibility was generationally driven, and what can be done to make it work. This discussion spilled over on Twitter and kept going long after the show ended.
The take away for me was that it would be interesting to do a series of posts from people in different geographies, from different generations, on what work/life flexibility means to them and whether or not they think it works. I’m thrilled to say that Eric Winegardner (from Monster), Bill Boorman (UK based Bill Boorman Consultancy), and Beth Carvin (CEO of Nobscot Corporation) all signed on to participate in the series. I don’t know if this will turn into a generational divide, a men vs. women debate, or a geographical smack-down between the US and the UK. What I do know is that I have three of the brightest in the HR industry weighing in on a great topic. We welcome your comments and ideas on what work/life flexibility means to you.
First up, Eric Winegardner.
As a white-collar American, I work more than I do anything else. I work more than I sleep. I work more than I spend time with my family. It is a fact of life, and I love it. That’s right, I just said I love it. Why? Because I stopped worrying about balance years ago and started focusing on Integration of the two seemingly separate worlds. You see, I have no home-life without work, and I have no work-life without home. There is only one Eric. Take him or leave him.
To be fair and to properly set the stage for my argument, I feel obliged to disclose that I am a self-proclaimed workaholic. I prefer to refer to myself as a lifeaholic. It just sounds better. I happen to be incredibly passionate about what I do, enjoy the people I work with, and believe that if I execute flawlessly magic things happen for the masses. Okay, so maybe I’ve had one too many sips of the Kool-Aid! The reason I tell you this, is I fear I am in the minority of people who look at Work/Life Integration as a means to be able to work MORE- without it adversely affecting those I love so dearly. If I didn’t completely lose you on that one, we will most likely grow to be close friends.
I am on the quest to have it all, and flexibility is a critical component to my success. Flexibility is about being able to do what I need to do, where and when I need to do it without feeling GUILTY about doing it. Guilt is a complex emotion that erodes productivity not to mention overall happiness.
I have found that the secret to my work/life integration has been to eliminate guilt. I refuse to feel guilty to my employer for picking my daughter up at preschool in the “middle of the workday”, scheduling a dentist appointment in the middle of the week, or pinging my friends on Facebook or Twitter with a moment of genius “on company time.” Conversely, I do not allow myself to feel guilty for missing my daughter’s field trip, taking just one more phone call in the middle of dinner, or not being home at night for bath time, stories, and goodnight kisses. Do I miss those things, of course! But can I carry the burden of guilt, no way. Instead, I concentrate on being aware of the fact that I am ALL roles in my life at once. I choose to be fully present for the things I GET to experience, and do my best to thoroughly enjoy the moment, whether that be a work or home setting. I think that approach makes me a better husband, father, friend AND employee!
I work from my home office in Cincinnati, my real office in Boston, and from Monster offices across the globe. I work from airports and airplanes, from hotel lobbies and rooms, from back seats of cars and from restaurants and coffee shops. I can work from anywhere, anytime, and usually do. It is what inspires me, what motivates me, and what makes me the happy person my family totally digs. Therefore, it works.
So, what do you think? Weigh in with your comments.