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A so called balance

May 5, 2009

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My first posting for the brilliant new marketing blog “Marketing Donut“, you can read the original here. If you agree or disagree with me, head over to the site and leave a comment.

At last year’s Future of Web Apps conference I sat through a fantastic business debate between Jason Calacanis (Mahalo and Weblogs fame) and Tim Nixon (Nixon McInnes). The debate was structured around the prickly subject of work/life balance. Jason compared work to the Tour de France or the Olympics; Tom was a little more relaxed telling the audience he lets his staff pull a four day week. While I enjoyed the debate, it got me thinking about the work/life balance. To be honest I think that they are both wrong — in business we can do much better.

This may be a little controversial, but frankly the term work/life balance makes no sense. It’s a phrase penned between traditional business trying to justify reasons to call its staff at the weekend, and staff determined to make sure they do just what they need to and not a cent more. I subscribe to neither.

For me, and anyone with half a brain in this economy, “work” is part of “life”, not a separate entity that needs a special category, otherwise what’s the point? Do you have a social/life balance or a sleep/life balance? Why is work so special? Sure it takes up a load of your week but that just proves the point even more. If you want to be a success and your work sucks, I bet your life does as well.

Within my role I am responsible for a pretty big team of people across four countries. Most of the team work at home, some in the office. I like to believe we have a great understanding of one another. The team is awesome — when something needs doing I can guarantee someone will step up and pull that extra shift to get it done. The flip side is that when someone needs a few hours out, it’s not a problem. To quote Jason Calacanis we “bust ass”, but I would like to think we do it together. I don’t bust them — there is give and take, but it’s not a “balance”.

Personally I feel there is no need for me to keep my work life and my home life separate. Most nights I sit, MacBook on lap, either working, chatting to friends or scheming about the ‘next big thing’. I don’t differentiate between work and home. Sure I unplug and there is always personal time with the family, but having spent the last few years being connected twenty four hours a day I really have no problem about the blurry boundaries.

So, you can keep your so called “balance” — I want to be a success for both myself and my employer. After all it’s what I spend most of the week doing, why wouldn’t I want to be good at it?

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