Work-life balance is perhaps one of the most widely used terms in the professional world. From corporate speakers to motivational writers, everyone tries to sell the idea of improved wellbeing through balancing work and other aspects of life. The problem, though, is that the entire concept of work-life balance is fundamentally flawed. Here’s what all businesses should know about the issues with work-life balance and the emerging trend of work+life synergy that could solve many of them.

The Problem With the Idea of Work-Life Balance

On its surface, the concept of work-life balance seems simple and reasonable enough. The problem, though, is that it’s a deeply incomplete view of how work really fits together with other aspects of life. As it’s normally discussed, work-life balance is something that a person either achieves or doesn’t. The problem, of course, is that both work and life circumstances change over time. So, even a person who has achieved a good work-life balance at one point might become overwhelmed at another time.

The second problem with work-life balance as an idea is that it is massively oversimplified. To most people, achieving a balance between work and the rest of their lives is simply a matter of hitting the right ratio of hours on and off the clock. While good time management is obviously one piece of reaching a better relationship with work, it’s far from the whole story. Simply dividing the day into time blocks won’t help workers manage fatigue, avoid stress, or combat burnout.

The final issue with the notion of work-life balance is that it simply doesn’t work in the real world. Despite years of efforts to improve work-life balance, 60 percent of American workers still report that they have poorly defined boundaries between their professional and home lives. Even worse, over 90 percent of professionals in the US work 50 or more hours weekly. As of 2022, more than half of US workers actively feel burned out at their jobs. Clearly, the current model of work-life balance isn’t doing nearly enough to help employees.

One of the clearest signs that workers are tired of the myth of work-life balance is the so-called Great Resignation. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of Americans experienced working from home for the first time. As businesses reopened, employees rapidly began to quit their jobs in order to seek out better relationships between their work and personal time. While work-life balance has been out of step with reality for many years, the pandemic was a watershed moment that has made employees far less willing to stand for stressful, overly demanding jobs.

Work+Life Synergy: A Better Approach

To solve the problems of work-life balance, some innovative workers and employers are exploring a concept known as work+life synergy. The basis of this idea is that rather than being balanced against each other, a person’s work and personal lives should complement each other. By approaching work in this way, employees are able to feel more fulfilled and content in all aspects of their lives.

Work+life synergy begins with enabling workers to do jobs that play to their strengths. People who work in roles that they aren’t well-aligned with will naturally feel more stress in the workplace. Those whose jobs play to their individual aptitudes, however, will experience higher engagement and be less likely to become overwhelmed.

Next, workers should be encouraged to bring their entire personalities to work. Introducing hobbies and interests into the workplace or carrying professional skills outside of it for personal projects will help to create a more integrated relationship between work and non-work activities.

Companies that are trying to make a shift to work+life synergy should also be eager to help workers create boundaries around their personal time. While the idea of work+life synergy is to develop a mutually beneficial relationship between employees’ personal and professional lives, it’s still important for them to have time when they are not obligated to work.

As discussed earlier, the need for a shift to work+life synergy has only been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. As US employees worked from home, they discovered the benefits of creating a synergy between their professional and personal lives. From less time spent commuting to more time spent with family, workers were surprised by the perks of integrating work with the rest of their lives. These benefits translate into improved mental health, less stress, improved mood, and better sleep. Working from home also raised worker motivation, creativity, and productivity.

Clearly, businesses need to evolve with programs and policies that foster genuine employee wellbeing and support work+life synergy. RemoteWorx wants to help. RemoteWorx is a web-based platform designed to encourage employee happiness and wellbeing. Organizations can use the RemoteWorx platform to better engage their employees and raise overall satisfaction with a rewards-driven approach to managing work and life.