Well, work life balance was already a sticky wicket before this pandemic hit and then it sent 10s of millions of us home.
That was one thing.
Now comes the hard part.
Some of us have to go back to the workplace.
Some of us have the option to go back to the workplace and some of us don't have to at all.
It's gonna be a variegated return, which makes things even more complicated at work.
And back at home, I would argue the two places where work life balance live.
Now what Dr. Greg Ketchum is the founder of talent planet, a workplace and management consultancy.
And many of you will know him as a host have seen that radio back in the day, going back quite a ways on that one.
Greg, you did something in your podcast recently that grabbed my ear you said work life balance as a concept was never going to work.
What do you suggest instead,
Brian, if you look at the whole idea of work life balance, it's kind of a fantasy that I'm supposed.
Supposed to carve out time for the responsibilities and activities I have at home versus what I do at work and I'm supposed to guard that that time and dedicate myself to it.
Now to me that's kind of like making a new year's resolution and trying to stick to it.
Because you know, you get to work, and things start rolling, and you get going with it, and you don't wanna stop, and despite my best intentions of what I say I'm gonna do, I'm a co-conspirator in my own demise because I'm just trying to get everything done.
The whole idea is that it's all on my shoulders as an employee to make this happen.
The employer plays no role in this.
And that was never gonna work as well.
So what I'm advocating instead is the idea of work life integration.
And that means that employers begin to see their employees as more than just Individual widgets that show up at work and then go home and do whatever else they do their employers have to take a holistic view of their employees and recognize that they have a role to play in helping employees manage.
The responsibilities have their entire life.
And that's the big difference here, Brian.
So give me some ideas on what that might look like.
As you've been mulling this concept over how might that be different than the workplace that we left a few months ago.
This is a great time for people to think about it as they go back to work and say,hey, boss, Here's what I'd like to do since we're in an era of innovation.
Well, if you look at the changes, some of the changes COVID-19 is bringing, there's going to be a lot less travel business travel.
One of my clients I was talking to her the other day said formerly her clients in Korea and Japan.
Insisted she come for in, in person face to face visits and now they're pretty comfortable working remotely.
So there's gonna be a lot less business travel going on.
There's going to be less real estate companies are gonna de-escalate in terms of how much real estate they have.
So those are two primary ways of saving.
So what I'm advocating is that companies take some of that money and put it into helping employees With things like eldercare with child care, and other responsibilities like that at home.
Okay, so some of this does turn into a kind of a series of comp programs.
Not necessarily salary comp, but other benefits.
And,at a minimum employers could have somebody who's responsible.
Who's a work life integrator.
Who's responsible for helping employees manage those things.
If not, if not providing resources, at least providing directions of where they can find the resources they need.
But the whole idea of Brian, the big idea and work is.
Engagement, how do you get an engaged workforce, and there's all kinds of, you know, ideas that people have about that.
But as long as you've got this dichotomy, I've got my home life over here, my work life over here.
I'm the only thing in the middle, the employer is not helping me, you're not going to get the engagement that you need.
That's interesting the way you just described that work life balance sounds like a seesaw.
I'm trying to balance two opposite poles that somehow necessarily need to be a zero sum game.
If one goes up, the other comes down.
But you're talking about something that is much more sort of parallel.
It sounds like.
And I look at balance, the idea of balance.
So you look at a tightrope walker,
You're constantly moving and and adjusting to keep that so balance is not something that you can do easily.
We're talking about an integration here of those two things, so that we really look at individuals on ourselves.
From a holistic perspective, we're not just widgets that show up here.
And we have this other stuff we do on the other time, and the employers have no interest in that.
Now, how much of this thinking and this importance around this has ratcheted up around this pandemic versus if we were talking in January?
Would your take or your viewpoint be any different?
Well, the idea really came Brian from just looking at the way people are working now and being on video conferences.
So we literally right now have work life integration because people are at home but they're working.
So you can see it.
It's happening right before your eyes.
So this is a It's a new concept for me and it sprang out of just watching the responsibilities that people have at home.
You have your kids, they're your pets, whatever.
And it's like, well, how do people manage this when they're working full time?
There's this whole other life.
That's going on here.
It was always there, but we never saw it before, like we are now Brian.
So it's interesting.
This sounds like this pandemic has had a bit of a demonstration effect to show that people who are busy are best at getting things done.
It's that old saw if you want something done, ask a busy mom, cuz she knows how to get things done, as opposed to asking someone who has time on their hands.
That seems they gonna maps to them.
And I just think about if like, I want something to be done, Brian, I asked you, that's what I do.
[LAUGH] And I appreciate that but don't ask.
,The other one that's interesting here as we talked about Being working at home or going back to work is there's always been a prejudice about people who are allowed to work from home versus those who have to go in kind of a grumbling here, my job requires that I be at the office for whatever reason.
That's not going to be any better.
And so that's going to be worse as those people go back to work and say, Wow, a lot of people Get to stay at home, get to.
How do you think that should be handled in terms of the message in the workplace?
Well, that's a great question, Brian.
And really it's a comprehensive approach and solution to that.
Because we're not just talking about working from home, but we're talking about flex time as well, which is another benefit that company you're gonna see more of.
I was talking to my daughter the other day.
She's an editor at Ten Speed Press and she can't wait to get back.
To the audio.
So there's a real mix of people.
Some people like working at home, others find it too distracting, they can't concentrate.
So I think employers are gonna have to have just really nice open conversations about what works for some people isn't going to work for others.
And if there's a bunch of people who are working from home and that's seen as a benefit, then employers have to come up with something else.
For those folks who are working in the office still
How do you think we start to measure productivity and doing your job well when a lot of it's not done under our noses and eyes as managers?
That that gives us a lot of cues and clues about how someone's doing.
Now they're off at home and maybe we'll get some sort of a sort of a numb distant connection to how their ebb and flow is going.
You have any thoughts on that.
Well, that's a big area Brian, and I don't know about you, but when I started work, I punch the time clock.
And I don't think we're gonna go back to using time clocks like that.
But lots of studies show that productivity actually can increase.
When people work from home, I've seen some stuff on the internet about software solutions kind of spyware that you can put on to your employees computers or the systems where they have to tap in and say, okay, I'm working now tap.
And that's a ridiculous notion.
That's the worst thing you could possibly do.
Because what we're trying to do here is really build trust between employers and their staff so that we know that when they're at home, they're working and what we're also.
Doing Brian is we're judging by results not just by the amount of keystrokes people do or the amount of time they're putting in.
So I think you can look at results and the output to answer that question.>> So that'll be some different metrics.
I know a lot of people still work.
Maybe it's not a time clock on the wall.
But if you work in a law office or you're a legal clerk or you work anywhere, that's an agency like an ad-agency or creative agency.
You gotta track billable hours.
How many hours did I spend on this and who does it get billed to?
A lot of it we're still doing in the old fashioned 19th century sweat equity model.
Are there new models out there do you think to find out if someone is contributing to the business as opposed to they did these tasks?
[LAUGH] Yeah, that's a great question too Brian.
And it really has to do with the culture that you have at your organization.
And if your culture is about delivering results, it's not about putting in the time Allright, that's, I think we're gonna have to go back to basics with some things like that, in terms of how we define the culture is for this to work, there's so many changes this is bringing about Brian, one I just was thinking about the other day is Employers are gonna have a need for less office space.
They're having employees use their offices at home.
Does that mean that employers should be paying a certain amount of rent to their employee for that real estate at home?
That's a question that I haven't seen yet, but it's gonna come up.
That's interesting because this is no longer a small population.
At a certain elite level, this is gonna be pretty widespread you do have to it does beg the question, almost like some people have written off part of their home on their tax returns, there is a structure for this there is a way to account for it, to measure it, to do time measurement and to assign $1 value to it.
So the structure is there It's almost like do we just need to pivot now and say, hey, employer, this is on you.
And the other idea that I wanted to ask you about as we wrap up here is going back to work will be much more isolated.
And literally, the plexiglass shields, the distance seating, meetings where we're all spread out and fewer meetings, I think.
Uh-hm,That sort of thing seems to go against the grain of why we have an office in the first place, at least for office type work.
Uh-hm, Do you think it's gonna seem kind of lonely and odd to go to the office in the initial six months to a year of resumption Yeah, it's gonna be hard.
Definitely it's like learning to walk again in the office.
But you know, people are very adaptable Brian and that will become the new normal and people will get used to that and I don't think that's going to take very long for that to happen and and people will find ways to make those connections.
That, that would happen much easier in the past.
Just bypassing each other in a hallway or sitting down for coffee or something like that.
So I don't really anticipate that being a problem.
Speaker 1 00:10 Yeah.
Who says, what is the right sort of a mode for an office?
Whatever we thought was right.
That doesn't necessarily have to be a, it's going to be an interesting return, everybody.
And, we'll be covering this topic a lot more because it affects so many different styles of work for so many different people.
Hands going to roll out over a long time.
Dr. Greg Ketchum is the founder and head of talent planning.