June 17, 2021

Your kitchen table may stop being a desk this summer, but work and life will continue to intersect in new ways

A version of this article originally appeared on Thrive Global.

Whether it was fielding Zoom calls in unlikely places or becoming an ad hoc teacher at virtual school, the last year has given a whole new meaning to the concept of work/life balance. Workers are shedding some pandemic habits as they return to the office this summer, but the intermingling of personal and professional space is a new normal that has been building for years. In fact, this trend is profoundly changing relationships between companies and individuals, as well as the expectations we have for each other. 

Consider how significantly the workplace has already changed from one generation to the next. The value of lifetime job security at one firm has been eclipsed by the importance of "best place to work." And now the next generations—which include 56 million Millennials and the incoming class of 61 million Gen Z employees—are shaping new dynamics in the workplace and different expectations for work/life equilibrium. 

Meanwhile, technology has erased the physical and practical lines between home and office. One side of this digital coin is an "always on" business expectation. The other is the flexibility of remote working and the gig economy. 

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated us to a new place even further down this evolutionary path. As companies bring people back to the office, they are being asked to play an ever-bigger role in health and safety, provide new levels of work/life flexibility, and make resources available for individuals to secure their long-term financial security. 

These shifts create exciting possibilities for workers and employers to influence the future of work. So many organizations have re-examined the processes, technologies, and workplace benefits that attract and retain a diverse talent pool. Successful companies also recognize this time as an opportunity to embed agility, drive innovation, build loyalty, and shape sustainable cultures that can rise to new challenges. 

For individual workers, there is a symbiotic relationship between professional and personal fulfillment. We need to evaluate employment through many lenses: not just career track and salary, but also health and financial wellness, flexibility, and long-term stability in the face of uncertainties. 

Daily Zoom calls from the kitchen table may become less common, but our professional and personal lives continue to grow together. We all want to have an active and meaningful stake in the new frontiers of work and life that lie ahead.

A version of this article was originally published on LinkedIn.