Millennial Monday (part 3): The work/life smoothie (with kale)

Historically, the business world has talked about building employee satisfaction by encouraging workers to have a clear work/life balance. Leadership teams have stressed the importance of carving out family time on nights and weekends and turning your phone off during vacation. The recommendation was to create strong boundaries between your work life and your personal life, in the hopes that taking full advantage of off hours would enhance productivity and engagement at work.

Well, much as they’ve done with every other traditionally-accepted workplace theory, millennials have turned the idea of work/life balance on its head. Taking its place is its more loosey-goosey counterpart: work/life blend (which I first read about here). If the millennial approach to work were a smoothie, this would be it.

Our millennial manager survey indicates that millennial employees are focused on making sure that they are neither working too much nor playing too much. The majority of our respondents indicated that they work more than the classic 40-hour work week, with 31% working “as many hours as it takes to get the job done,” and 41% working 40-50 hours.

Oh that’s weird, because I thought millennials were “lazy” and “have no work ethic.” What it actually sounds like is that millennials have a 24/7 work ethic, but their work hours don’t fit into the traditional 9-5 timebox. The millennial enthusiasm for new technology that helps them to be more productive has resulted in a new definition of “work hours” for this group. The millennial managers we spoke to said they’re not overwhelmed by answering email during what are typically accepted as off-hours, or dedicated vacation time, so they simply define their own schedule. For previous generations, this might seem to be at odds with how we’ve always thought of work.

So, which is better? Work/life blend, or work/life balance? I’ve identified a few pros and cons of the new work/life blend methodology. As I used to say when I was a teacher, “Thoughts, questions, concerns?”

Pros Cons
Minimal disruption to your day when you have both personal and professional obligations throughout. Non-multi-taskers are out of luck. With a blend, you’re constantly switching gears between work and play.
Work when it’s convenient to you, not when your office happens to be open. Extra overhead required to communicate your availability to colleagues.
Ability to better cater to customer needs during what were previously considered off hours. You might unintentionally set the precedent that you’re available 24/7. There are people who might abuse your flexibility.
You can work during vacation. You can work during vacation.

Funny story, though, all jokes aside. I’m writing this blog in the passenger seat of my husband’s truck as we travel home from a meeting in Vermont. Technically, I have the day off (shout out to Akumina for being the best company ever), but I also have things to do. So, here I am. Sorry for the lack of journalistic objectivity, but I’m solidly in Camp Work/Life Blend. And I’m lucky enough that my company embraces the technology that allows me to have that opinion.

If you’re in the work/life blend camp too, and you want an employee experience platform that allows your employees to take advantage of the sunshine while getting their work done, request a demo on our site, and check out the Akumina platform. And as usual, keep your eyes on the blog for our next edition of Millennial Monday.

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