The Weekly Review

by Chris Bowler

Susan Dominus, writing for the NYT Magazine, writes about the importance of team culture over policy. The focus of the article is to illustrate the point that even when companies tout flexibility through corporate policy, it can take time for team members to feel comfortable allowing their personal life to encroach upon the boundaries of their professional life.

The article is a good one (part of an interesting series titled, “THE WORK ISSUE: REIMAGINING THE OFFICE”). Dominus states that making this type of shift has to start with the employers way of thinking and talking about this subject of work-life balance:

For years, employees and human-resources professionals spoke of the ubiquitous desire for ‘‘work-family balance.’ … at best, balance is perhaps an unrealistic goal: a state of grace in which all is aligned. ‘‘Balance is something you want but can never have,’’ says Cali Yost, whose specialty is helping businesses implement flexibility strategies. She started referring to ‘‘work-life fit’’ to capture the way workers try to piece the disparate parts of their lives together. (The American Psychological Association and the Society for Human Resource Management have started to use this term as well.)

The following point stands out as the most poignant aspect of work that people struggle with:

Workplace stress often is more accurately described as workplace guilt, an especially corrosive form of distress.

Which makes working for a company that includes guidelines such this so enjoyable:

We don’t babysit. Everyone is responsible and accountable for their contributions.

And:

We believe most things are not urgent. Be patient, stay calm, and go home.

I’ve worked in many different team environments and getting the right balance is hard. Our North American sense of self worth is tied to our vocation, so this entire subject is a delicate one. I’m glad to see it getting a lot of attention.