Work-life balance is complicated.
It's an intricate consideration - much more than just assessing personal priorities and learning how to manage our time. It's an Ideal, a goal and a pursuit that will probably be a little bit different tomorrow than it is today.
When we used to talk about balance, it was a conversation rooted in location. Are we spending too much time in the office? Are we spending enough at home or with the family?
That was then. This is now.
Work-life balance is much more complex than it was a generation ago. It's not just about where we are - it's about how we live. Today, we have the ability and technology to be constantly connected. We can check email at the dinner table, or negotiate a deal from the bleachers of a soccer game without speaking a word.
We can, but that doesn't necessarily mean we should.
It's October, which means it's also National Work and Family Month, a time to take stock where we are and how far we have (or haven't) come in the quest for work-life balance. I've been in the work-life and employee effectiveness industry for 25 years. I've seen an incredible transformation.
What used to be a conversation dominated by the U.S. businesses and employees is now a global one. It's a discussion that extends deep into the realm of productivity, efficiency and profitability.
At its core, this is the conversation today: What tools can employers provide to give employees the flexibility they need to be as effective as they possibly can be?
Businesses in every country around the world are trying to figure out how to get the most out of their workforce - what they can do to make their employees better. And the world is beginning to recognize that the answer is not the typical American response to work harder and longer (regardless of how hard and long we're currently working).
Employees are better employees when they can manage their personal lives, along with their professional responsibilities. When you are teetering on the cusp of burnout, you are no longer doing your job efficiently. When your stress level rises to the point where it affects you physically, you are no longer being effective at what you do.
Business owners know this, and more of them - small and large companies across all industries - are providing things like access to convenience services, back-up dependent care services, financial advisory resources, legal consulting, flexible scheduling, and technology that allows employees to work remotely.
With change comes opportunity. I've seen a lot of change in the work-life industry, and I know it will only continue. As the pursuit and practice of work-life balance evolves, businesses can and should adapt to make sure the needs of their workforce are met.
These are opportunities to better your employees and your business - both at the same time. Regardless of how the business world, technology or the pace of everyday life changes, a well-balanced workforce will always be the most effective workforce.