Even before the pandemic there was starting to be a shift in how we work, but now it seems even more pronounced. What we have referred to as work life balance for years has become work life blend. As younger, more tech savvy individuals start to dominate the workplace and the technology continues to advance, the idea of having work with you all the time becomes more of a reality. At first this was looked at as an advantage by the digital natives who could leave the office and still be available if they were needed. But to some it became a burden as they realized they could never get away from work. What seemed to be a good way of balancing life with work was becoming a blend of perpetual life and work with little distinction.
Then along came COVID-19 and changed everything. With the quarantines and work from home orders, the ability to work from home and balance the rest of life was a real bonus for the technically adept generation. At the same time, it was a headache of how to learn to rely on technology for those, mostly older workers, who were not comfortable with technology.
How well you adapt to these changes can depend on your age or what generational group you fit with. What’s changed over the years? If you look at different generational groups and their view of work, a lot has changed.
|Generational Group||How they look at work||What’s work life balance?|
|Veteran||Sacrifice, hard work, respect for authority, separation of work and family||Balance involves defined roles keeping work and home life separated.|
|Baby Boomer||Long hours, teamwork, consensus||Balance means juggling everything while I look for meaning in my life.|
|Generation X||Self reliance, creativity, adaptability||I want to find balance now, not when I’m 65.|
|Millennial||Speed, networking, problem solving, engaging with authority, meeting challenges with optimism||Work isn’t everything. I need flexibility so I can balance all my activities (family, friends, community service).|
As the next generation of leaders recognizes the value of life and their purpose for work as more than earning as much recognition or money as possible, the priorities change. Looking after family, spending time with each other, and taking care of those in the community in need of help all become important parts of the equation.
As Generation Z enters the workforce with no memory of life before smartphones, staying connected and blending all parts of life as needed may seem natural, unless they begin to find a way to make a clear distinction between different aspects of their online life and separate their work and non-work life.