The old work life balance is getting to be work and life, per Dr. Vic, TEP.Global, a people expert, talent assessment for AI age workforce management.

The “Work Life Balance” Misnomer and the Age of “Work AND Life”

The “Work Life Balance” Misnomer and the Age of “Work AND Life”

By Dr. Vic | Feb 23rd, 2024 | Employee engagement, HR consulting, Management consulting, Organizational development, People management, Talent assessment, | 0 Comments

From the industrial age “work-life-balance”, to the post pandemic new normal of “work and life”, leaders need to prepare for the human-centered workplaces.

As we recently pointed out in the article “Chief People Officer, Pt. 1”, “There’s definitely an expectation among the new workforce to have more of a coaching-manager type who really thinks about their development,” said Harter, an author of several books on management: “They’re demanding work to improve their life, not just to be a separate thing”, according to a Bloomberg report.

Welcome to the challenge and excitement of human-centered workplaces

The so-called “work life balance” is based on the industrial age premise that “work is work, life is life”. They need to be balanced since they are separate and not related to each other.

The pandemic accelerated the blurring and mixing of work and life: Work is often performed from home, many people prefer remote working, or a hybrid of work from home as well as in office.  This new normal has led to the recent troubles in the commercial real estate market based on the pre Covid, inflexible model of piling bodies in highrises. Many office buildings have not recuperated from the Covid years.

Why can’t work be a fulfilling part of life, and life be passionate work? 

As AI automates much routine and repetitive work, the human workforce is now freed up to be more innovative, autonomous, engaging, and creative.  They rightfully desire their work to be associated with the meaning and purpose of their lives. They want the content of their jobs to improve the quality of living. Machine-like monotonous “work” is, hopefully, a thing of the past (thank God, at last). 

Now, human centric organizations need to prepare for the age of “Work AND Life”, dawning on the horizon.

“Work AND Life” is more than providing food and beverages in the office, fancy furniture, perks, even gyms and day care centers on site. The challenge is in stimulating and sustaining intrinsic motivation for the workforce, and making the work environment where people are happy and fulfilled.

Workplace is a tribe, a village, a community, and a culture

Humans are social animals by nature. We depend on each other for every aspect of living, and we even measure our own worth by the level of acceptance by others. 

In any organization, in-person or virtually, everyone seeks connection to each other, relationships with colleagues and friends, and a sense of belonging to a community, a tribe, a culture. The satisfaction of this communal aspect of work sometimes exceeds transactional rewards and compensation. 

In the best scenario, people go to work because they want to be part of a whole, and together they make a difference. They stay in a company because they like to be with people at work, with whom they form synergy, camaraderie, and a collective identity. From accomplishment at work, people not only develop self esteem but also genuine appreciation for team members and leaders. A workplace is where they share common values and purposes under the umbrella of a brand and a culture.

Work is an important part of life

Other than the practical necessity of sustaining one’s life and family with money earned from work, a large part of an individual’s identity (viewed by oneself and by others) is by the kind of work one does, and the company one works for. 

The vast majority of people spend the majority of their lives WORKING (except the ultra rich who don’t need to work in order to bring home bread and butter).  

It is therefore all the more important that both organizations and individuals prioritize making work the essential part of living, for self improvement, organizational growth, and to meet the new expectations for the workplace for personal fulfillment – emotionally, psychologically, mentally, even spiritually.

Making work an important part of living does not mean that life is all work, which is an unhealthy, even destructive way of living.

Respect the boundary between “Work AND Life”

One’s personal life is usually defined as family relationships, hobbies, interests, religion, politics, ethnicity, charity, sports, arts, entertainment, and other non-work related aspects of living.  In this regard, personal life is not to be confused or conflated with work life.

One’s home and hearth are sacredly private places, in a psychological and practical sense. Respecting the healthy boundary between one’s private life and work life is key for both maintaining an individual’s wholesome sense of self and privacy, and for keeping an organization’s respectability and integrity. 

Organizations need to be careful when demanding too much from their workforce’s personal time. No matter how much employees love their work and their companies, organizations should never cross the line into a person’s private domain. This is crucial for sustaining trust and loyalty from their people, based on respect, not on exploitation and overreaching.

Organizations need to be creative and innovative in satisfying employees in the workplace

The human centered age demands human centered approaches to the workplace and people management, as workforce expectations are changing. Those who adapt will survive and thrive.


TEP.Global is a leader in people development, workforce engagement, organizational development, and talent assessment.  Dr. Vic, the founder and chief people expert, leads a team of top global experts in HR, psychology, culture and brand, with a combined 100+ years of experience. Please contact us for more information.

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