The new work-life integration


I saw a cartoon that shows a boss giving instructions to his subordinate. He says, “I need you to stay late and go home two hours later because we are going to have a seminar on work-life balance.

Another one says: “Isn’t it ironic when a company tells you how you should balance your personal life and work-life? Yet, at the same time, they want you to be available to work 24 hours a day! Like hello, I would be able to balance work and home if you give me a break!”

Many companies understand that after spending a fortune on speakers and seminars teaching time management and work-life balance, they cannot see results. So do not blame speakers and do not blame the people who organized the talks. First of all, how do you manage time when time continues, whether you manage it or not, amidst accelerating change and developments that are happening on a day-to-day basis?

Next, as I repeatedly say in my seminars (and now webinars), if you were to visualize an instrument that measures balance, what would that be? Again, the audience would yell out or somebody would type the answer in the chatbox: “A weighing scale.That’s right! and that means you need to distribute the weight evenly 50-50. Now, if you only deliver 50 percent work, I think you would be terminated for gross inefficiency. And how do you live your personal life 50 percent? Get the point?” Companies today no longer talk about work-life balance, they talk about work-life integration or harmony.

Zoom meetings, virtual meetings, remote work or work from home have produced many positive and negative reactions. Many executives are tired of this arrangement, and they want their people to go back to the physical offices and work there. I understand this sentiment.

If there is one thing that has revealed itself so clearly is that “people miss people, the most.” In the physical office setups, bosses can have immediate access to people. With just one touch of a button or one holler to the executive assistant, the people will come running to the executive office or the conference room.

Do you realize how humbling the present setup has been for a lot of high-powered executives? They are now occupying one frame - perhaps the lower-left pane of their Zoom’s gallery as the screen has practically made everybody equal. Next, many executives complain about the lack of creativity and churn of innovative ideas because people no longer huddle around the water cooler, pantry or coffee shops.

One seasoned business executive says, “I disagree with that observation. In all of my entire career, there has never been one single creative and innovative idea that came out of the water-cooler or the pantries because people do not discuss ideas there; they merely gossip!” I got a big laugh when I heard this, although, in fairness, there are many brilliant ideas scribbled on a napkin while inside a coffee shop.

For more than one year, we have gotten used to doing work while listening to babies crying, dogs barking, and then some people asking to be excused as he or she has to receive a Lazada or a Grab delivery. What a way to illustrate work-life integration.

I kid you not, as two months ago in my virtual Level Up Leadership Master Class, one participant wrote in the chatbox: “Kindly excuse me for dropping out of the class because I am on my way to deliver my baby!!!” Could you have a more graphic demonstration compared to this? Meanwhile, all these virtual events and conferences have allowed me to reach out to larger audiences from all across the globe and do training for companies located in other countries. These are experiences I never had before. Spared from heavy traffic, saved money on expensive cups of coffee, and still managed to be in the company of my loved ones just a few minutes after I bid “Goodbye” after the training class or webinar closes.

There will be a continuing debate whether people should all go back to their physical offices, work from home entirely or a more acceptable hybrid arrangement of somedays you work from home and some days you work in the office. This debate, as well as experimentation, will continue for a while. My only suggestion is to open the ears, hearts, and minds and see how best we can have our people be creative, innovative, productive, and participative as we enter the post-pandemic economy. Keep the experimentation going, for, after all, is that not the essence of innovation?



(Francis Kong’s highly acclaimed Level Up Leadership Master Class online runs this Aug. 3 to 5. Develop your leadership skills that translate into personal, career, and business growth. For inquiries and reservations, contact April at +63928-559-1798 or and for more information, visit www.levelupleadership.ph)

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