Why it’s time to stop saying “my work is my life”​

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We’re a good distance away from the Industrial Revolution.

Within the 1700s and 1800s, work life was exhausting: Days have been lengthy. Working situations have been tough and oftentimes harmful. Amenities have been unsafe. Kids have been typically compelled to work in precarious conditions, and older adults have been nonetheless working 12-hour days nicely into the final quarter of their lives. All of this put an immense pressure on individuals’s private lives.

Then, within the late 1800s, we entered an age of mass manufacturing. This was one of many first occasions “leverage” might be seen in on a regular basis life—and slowly, individuals started to see a lightweight on the finish of the tunnel. As work situations improved and companies scaled, the idea of “working to at some point retire” was born. One may additionally say this was the start of “work-life stability.” You labored for 8 to 10 hours per day, and also you spent the remainder of your time with your loved ones and pals.


The digital revolution is when these two worlds started to intermingle.

Google, Fb, and different tech giants started to create minicities for his or her staff that much less resembled the commercial manufacturing amenities of the 1800s and felt extra like an all-inclusive faculty campus. This was the primary time in historical past that work life and private life had turn into utterly intertwined—and never out of necessity, however comfort and selection. Google was one of many first firms to provide its staff the liberty to costume casually, get their garments dry-cleaned, present meals, provide hangout areas and occasions, and extra. And albeit, many individuals cherished it.

Which brings us to in the present day, post-pandemic, and 1000’s of staff from one of the worthwhile and revered firms on the earth, Apple, refusing to go back to the office.

The way forward for work is elective

Some individuals actually need to work for high-performing groups and are prepared to commit their lives to be nice teammates, leaders, executives, and even founders. Nonetheless, many different individuals (particularly popping out of the pandemic) have come to the alternative conclusion: They don’t want their lives outlined by their work.

The New York Times calls this “the Yolo Economy.” Now, greater than ever, staff are making acutely aware selections to depart their jobs and pursue careers that give them extra autonomy, freedom, and life-work stability—the place the “life” portion comes first, and the work comes second. Even when it means taking a pay lower or letting go of their fancy job title.

They’d relatively really feel fulfilled throughout many points of their lives than be “conventionally profitable.”

The query this raises is whether or not we have now ever measured ourselves and work precisely earlier than?


Google, Fb, Netflix, Microsoft, any main firm on the earth (in addition to the overwhelming majority of small companies) would love you to consider that your work is a very powerful factor in your life. Certain, you’ll have household and pals. Sure, you’ll be able to love them very a lot. However your actions should present that you’re dedicated to your job, first. It’s your mission. It’s your function.

However does that imply you really work more durable and generate extra revenue for the corporate?

The way forward for work is elective as a result of many individuals are coming to the belief that, no, their job doesn’t want to be their sole mission in life. No, they don’t want to present up to an workplace 5 and even six days per week so as to be an efficient worker or chief. The truth is, they are often extremely efficient working half as a lot–from house, whereas touring, within the context of extra freedom.

As increasingly more individuals start to see work within the context of their life, as a substitute of their life within the context of their work, companies everywhere in the world are going to want to rethink the methods they interact, encourage, and assist their staff.

  • Possibly “full-time” and “part-time” turn into issues of the previous. Our working lives shouldn’t be outlined by our to-date restricted creativeness of employment contracts. Corporations will begin to discover the 11-month contract, the 4-day workweek, and the immense spectrum between freelance and full-time. We could even transfer away from measuring worker effectiveness primarily based on time altogether (and as a substitute focus solely on the standard of the outcome).
  • Possibly the way forward for workplace house is native pop-ups. Possibly it’s offsite venues, the place staff collect periodically all year long. Possibly workplace campuses return to being places of work and never the existence they have been earlier than.
  • Possibly the brand new “American Dream” is not going to be outlined by a high-paying workplace job with a retirement account, a home within the suburbs, and two automobiles within the driveway, however as a substitute be outlined by having a 100% distant profession, no home or mortgage, no automotive, and unencumbered freedom.
  • Or perhaps for some, the “American Dream” nonetheless consists of workplace life, common working hours, and stability. That’s okay too. However in the end, the very best way forward for work is the one which works for you.

Possibly the way forward for work is having the selection.

Bree Grof is a speaker, change agent, and accomplice at SYPartners.

This article initially appeared in Minutes and is reprinted with permission.