What the F*WK? "Work/Life Balance"

I'm not sure about the rest of you, but I find the reality of work often making it difficult to find a work/life balance. More often than not, the first thing I do when I wake up is check my email. The last thing I do before going to sleep? Yup - check my email. And it's not as if I'm always reading things I need to read; it's just habit. I bring this up because I came across this interesting article from Fast Company - it's about manager's setting expectations for off-hours work/communication. Have any of you had a conversation with your manager's about after-hours work expectations?

Image via Fast Company.

One of Nielsen's executives presented an interesting take on work/life balance.

I think the majority of us (and I'm included in this) think of work/life balance as an eff/flow tradeoff; If work starts taking over, life takes a back seat for a short time while you double down on work. Then, the life takes over and work takes a back seat. And around and around and around you go...

However, our executive turned it around on us (by use of a pencil). The pencil becomes a see saw with work on one side and life on the other. If work takes over, that side drops to the ground. How do you get the see saw back to level? By doubling down and focusing on life. If the balance becomes uneven, it's on us to get it back to even.


  1. First, are you specifically checking work email first thing in the morning and immediately prior to bed?

    I feel that working for a small company almost entirely determines my off-hours communication. Over the past few years, I have probably averaged 30 minutes of work per five vacation days. This is usually not incredibly important, but more time sensitive and/or client related. If they couldn't reach me for the rest of the week, it wouldn't be the end of the world, but since I do have access to my work email while on vacation, why not take advantage of it? Sometimes I'll get a text, phone call or email at odd hours. If I am readily available I respond, but if I don't, there are no repercussions whatsoever.

    I think the bigger issue from that article that I would have loved seen expanded was the difference between manager's/leader's actions vs. their expectations. For a while, one of the partners I work for was regularly in the office as early as 7:30am while the other wasn't in until after 10am. I found myself getting in to the office between 8 and 8:10 pretty regularly. Now that he is operating out of the office, significantly more (and I am dropping by daughter off at day care which may in fact be a bigger cause), I usually get into the office between 8:30 and 8:45.

    There was never an official discussion of hours to be in the office (and this is also very common among engineers), but when my boss is a little bit of a workaholic often spending 10 hours in the office, I find that I am spending at least nine hours in the office.

    How many times have you adopted your superiors actions?

  2. No, here is the FIRST question: did you really mean to spell it 'balence' in the title?

  3. No clue what you're talking about Royce...get your eyes checked.

  4. My favorite part about this is that, no matter how many times you change the title now, the blog is still referred to with the original title in the comments section on the right of the main page. So your awesome spelling is memorialized forever.

  5. Hey grammar/spelling Nazi, do you have any thoughts regarding the content?

    Remember, Scott could just delete the comments referring to spelling.

  6. I actually completely agree that it's the bosses who really set the tone on that stuff. At my old job my hours were ostensibly 8-5, but the bosses were always there past 6pm, so I would regularly stay until 5:30 or 6 (and get in around 7:30-7:45 so I got in before they did). At my current place everyone works the hours they expect me to work, so I leave at that time. It's all about the tone being set.

    I also no longer have my work email hooked up to my phone, and I LOVE that. I hated work stuff on weekends; I basically ignored it unless it was an absolute emergency. So I skew towards the 'life' side of this 'balence' you speak of. I have no problem working much longer or hours or weekends, but it would need to be for the right reasons: I really believe in what I'm doing; it's a short term thing for a long term gain; the benefits to me are real; etc.