Work/Life Balance: The Latest, New Trickle-Down Business Practice That’s Anything But “New”

Well, we all know about ‘trickle-down economics’ – the theory that if the system favors the wealthy and higher-ups, that those lower down the ladder in society and the job ranks would benefit from a cascading or ‘trickling down’ effect. As the well-heeled loosen their purse strings thanks to their financial wherewithal to spend and reload, comfortable knowing that their piggy banks would keep refilling at a relatively consistent pace, the process restarts yet again. Unless you’re at the top of that totem pole, you’re probably not a big fan or defender of the wisdom and results of that business and economics model – especially if you’re a Walmart cashier or stockperson, or are a comparable station-mate in life.

But here’s one trickle-down theory that those who don’t own or run a multi-employee business are sure to embrace – and it’s not new: Work/Life Balance practices. That’s right, the work/life balancing act is actually a variation of a way of working that has always existed, primarily for proprietors and the honcho set at businesses. It is now beginning to catch fire and mainstream as a desired work-way element of the general staff & line and, in some cases, is an expectation and demand, especially on the part of many of today’s more talented and sought-after employees.

Bosses, entrepreneurs and owners always enjoyed the greater freedoms to pivot at will and take care of any personal, work/life issues that inevitably pop up for all of us. They largely had the flexibility, support and right, when life’s challenges crept up, to do just about whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted, during the workday and workweek. What’s new about the more recent wave of work/life balancing is that the mid-to-lower rungs, and newer work generations, are increasingly getting in on the deal. It is now common to be able to have their own personal needs receive adequate acknowledgment and attention plus the flexible time, support and permission to handle those issues with greater freedom as they come up, within reason.

Self-determining work-life balance considerations and related policies are trickling down more and more each day at corporations. Virtualized and office based businesses are experienced this shift at fairly the same rate, while virtual services are just further along the path. At the same time, new businesses and solo-preneurs are incorporating the practice into their scheme of things as a natural and logical way to go about a work-day and handle life’s commonly uncommon hurdles. Some of this has been realized with virtual services like hourly conference room rentals, virtual offices and virtual answering service. The internet also has a lot to do with the need to satisfy the work-life balance demand of today’s workforce – as well as a dramatic shuffling of the values, priorities and worldviews of the modern worker.

People can search for jobs, and companies that suit their needs and match their values – thousands of them… on-line … and in a jiffy … thanks to the internet. No longer is working for a living with one employer for long spells, and the security of not having to scramble to find another employer, such a ‘must’. Especially when an employee can, from the comfort of their laptops and home, do the initial search for loads of preferred employment situations. And employers know this, which results in them being more on-their-toes and up-to-date on what it takes to keep good employees happy and loyal… which today means more work/life balance freedoms and practices.

That ‘it’ factor comes in the form of greater acknowledgment and respect for employees’ work-life balance needs — where an employee can have more freedom and say in the design of their work-day, especially when it comes to integrating their attention and turning to dealing with life’s daily twists and turns. Recent research shows that work-life balance is outpacing salary as the bigger attraction for many millennials and Gen-Y-ers looking for jobs. Davinci pioneered freedom from the office by offering self-driven individuals an alternative solution by going virtual. No longer is aspiring to the corner office, with the snazzy title and bigger bucks the burning ambition of a growing many.  Work & life balance – the kind that the bosses and big-wigs have always enjoyed – is fast becoming the bigger prize for the majority of non-management workers.

If it’s going to be longer to get promoted and make the bigger bucks, some people are opting for the traditional boss-perk of flexible work and life balance practices as the next-best-thing. Seeking to have their personal needs more respected and at least give them the sense that they’re not just numbers, suits and deliverers to a corporate bottom line. Work/life balance and employee engagement practices are the more modern incarnation of the job satisfaction and employee participation programs that have been around for decades. These programs, which were devised as ways to attract, motivate and retain top performing employees, are playing a bigger role in employee decisions of where they want to start a career. These days, not providing a flexible, self-managing work-life balance or supportive work environment risks chasing away good employees to the competition. Some are even opting for individual enterprising and freelancing where they can guarantee their own work/life balance.

In an effort to curtail what was perceived as work and life balance privileges run amok, CEO Marissa Mayer, when she took the helm at Yahoo a few years ago, came back to work in no time after she gave birth. The message was clear and subtle – under her new regime at the struggling Silicon Valley giant, work & life balance abuses wouldn’t be taken too kindly. Old-fashioned, limited maternity leave and return-to-work practices was to be shined upon at Yahoo. Well, that didn’t work out so well in a world that has changed their stance on this expectation. However, soon after returning, she was severely criticized. This was not because of her efforts to tighten loose practices, but because while she had a curtailed stance on maternity leave, she also had a nursery built to adjoin her office to practice her own version of uber-work/life balance.

Yup. Work and life balance is important to everybody these days; to all levels of a workforce – and still to higher-ups that have always had work-life balancing privileges. It’s the building block that makes employees feel more inspired to work and be in control of their lives more. If they can’t be the boss of their company, they should at least be able to be the bosses of their complex, daily lives.

Work/life balance is not something new – just newly available as a highly effective management, recruitment, retention and motivation tool that has trickled down from the top of the corporate ladder. In todays workspace, it is appreciated, a real favorite, and increasingly in demand by today’s more worldly, and diversionary-challenged workforce. When time comes that you want to take control of your work life, Davinci Virtual will be there for you, just as we have for over 40,000 entrepreneurs in the past 10 years.

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Ray Lindenberg

Ray Lindenberg

Ray Lindenberg is President of WANY - The Workspace Association of New York, and IN-Cert - The International Cooperative of A+ Certified Workspaces; and is the Chief Consultant & Innovation Officer at the Winning Workspaces Hospitality Group.