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Why work-life harmony is going to replace work-life balance

This is not another (scientific) research paper on the importance of wellbeing at the workplace. I think you’ve read enough to know the theoretical story. These are my observations from projects at our clients, where we help the employees to experiment to their ideal way of working while keeping a high level of energy and overall wellbeing.

I’m a work-life harmony advocate. Work is a part of people’s life. And people’s life outside work influences people’s work. And vice versa.

Why work-life harmony is going to replace work-life balanceThe societal changes due to the Covid-19 pandemic in work are accelerating some trends. As you may know, digital developments are making it quite easy to work together from different places.

Most knowledge workers found themselves forced to work from home. Learning the positive and negative effects of not being at the office.

Right now, they find themselves in organizations who are implementing some form of hybrid or remote work policy.

And then there are the companies who go ‘remote as a strategy’.

Luckily, there are quite a lot of good examples out there. However, there are also organisations who take the lessons learned from the pandemic era on how they organize work.

Now, this has not been a good test for companies to understand whether people could work from home or remotely. There were so many factors ‘not normal’.

Added to that, many companies and employees are still in the work-life balance mindset. Where ‘life’ and ‘work’ are put as separate items that you can switch on and off. Or keep juggling the balance (what is that anyway…).

This is not a good recipe for wellbeing at the workplace. It also suggests that you can be well at work but be miserable at life. Since these are approached as two different items. Spoiler-alert, when people are miserable at life, they won’t perform greatly at work.

So, what’s negatively affecting people at the workplace?

  • People cannot prioritize, because they cannot take the time to reflect and get an overview
  • And therefore, are very busy, all the time.
  • People work more hours compared to pre-2020.
  • People cannot host meetings well and frustrate everyone involved
  • People replicate their ‘in-office experience’ at home, which just doesn’t work.
  • People who do not know what drains their energy or how to arrive at work at their best.
  • Organizations and managers remain in their control mindset and still focus more on input than output
  • Organizations do not help their people to find out how they can deliver their work best.
  • Outdated IT systems that frustrate everyone.
  • ‘You are allowed to work from home on Monday and Wednesday’ as a hybrid work ‘strategy’

This may come across as a negative message and I could make this list longer. My point is, this is all influencing people’s wellbeing.

And not only ‘at work’.

In general.

Now we, as knowledge workers, have not fixed work and ‘the rest of my life’ schedules anymore. Family life, friends, leisure activities, holidays and work are all in harmony with people’s lives. At least, that’s how it is supposed to be.

This is vital for organizations. To make sure people feel well. Not only as a societal responsibility, but to be sure people arrive at work at their best. And are able to deliver their best work, while staying full of energy and being engaged.

Why work-life harmony is going to replace work-life balance

What do people do when their friends drain their energy and make them unhappy?

They consider letting them go as a friend.

What do you do when your relationship makes you unhappy over a longer period of time? You probably consider ending the relationship or work very hard to make it work.

What do you do when you do not like your sport anymore?

You’ll try to find something else.

What would you do when you do not get energy from work and this is influencing your overall wellbeing in a negative way. I guess I know the answer.

Especially in a time where there’s a lack of skilled people everywhere.

Work is so much blending in with the rest of our lives and people want to feel well. We all know people get joy and energy from delivering value to a cause. Whether it be their team, organization or the mission of the organization.

By focusing on helping employees figure out how they can deliver their best work you will great a win-win-win situation.

They deliver their best work, because they want to add value to the cause, their wellbeing is boosted since their work-life harmony is good and they have no urgent reason to leave the company.

So what can you do?

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For example, let people think about how they can deliver their best work. What would a workday look like if they can design it themselves? Let people share this within their team so the mutual understanding and support grows in achieving this.

It helps to stimulate people to experiment with this. To learn what works and what doesn’t.

It will inspire them to take ownership about their work experience.

This obviously starts with giving people the freedom, responsibility and ownership in how they organize their work. So leadership should be ready to provide this.

To summarize, as an organization you want utilize the talent available. In order to achieve this, people in an organization should have a good work-life harmony. When people feel that they add value to a cause, it boosts their wellbeing and you make sure people arrive at their best at work. Full of positive energy, since that’s an ingredient of how they can deliver their best work.

I believe this should be a focus in your strategy if you want to reach your goals. Because when your people feel good, your organisation performs better.

Looking for a fun and practical way to start? Check out the free design your ideal workday template and get started:

work-lifeWritten by Kristiaan Hartmann from ‘Prototype You’

Prototype You help employees with their ideal way of working and collaborating. That way they can get more energy and discover the best way to work.

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