Work-life Integration = New Hotness

May 5, 2007

Everyone seems to have there own opinion on what they feel work-life balance really means. Many believe that work should not interfere with ones personal life and vice versa. Based on my experience, these are the same individuals who you can generally set your watch by. Clock in at nine, clock out at five, eat lunch in between, by themselves, at their desk. There is certainly nothing wrong with this mentality which seems to be more associated with older generations. They have been conditioned by both society to be home in time for dinner regardless of issues at work and by employers to formulate routines and be accessible to bosses during normal working hours. Then comes along Gen Y with their mobile devices and demands for flexibility.

My opinion is that those members of the Millennial Generation are not interesting in the same work-life balance that their older coworkers are interested in. Those more seasoned generations are interested in a more harsh separation between work life and personal life. They prefer to leave work at work and check their personal lives at the company’s front door. I see younger workers less interested in a harsh separation and actually prefer to integrate personal and work into one entity, I guess we could just call that ‘life’. I want to be able to work from wherever, whenever. The thought is that work is something that you do, not a place that you go. I want to take personal phone calls while I’m at work, access my personal email, and better yet, access to members of my personal life.

I’m sure much of this cultural change can be associated with the rise of the Internet during our generation. We are the most networked generation thanks in large part to the MySpaces and Facebooks of the world; we are constantly connected and have access to information about everyone and everything. We have grown up with mobile devices and Web applications that have untethered us from a physical location and have granted us the flexibility to do what we want when we want. Now we are demanding the same of our workplace. I see work-life balance as a thing of the past and the future lies in work-life integration.