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Our Undivided Selves at Work

Our team recently discussed Apple TV’s thriller series, “Severence” starring Adam Scott and Patricia Arquette. If you haven’t seen the show, here’s the elevator pitch: “Mark [Adam Scott’s character] leads a team of office workers whose memories have been surgically divided between their work and personal lives; when a mysterious colleague appears outside of work, it begins a journey to discover the truth about their jobs.”

Without giving too much away, the main characters choose to have an elective surgery to sever their brain in a way so they have two distinct lives: a work life and a home life. When they’re at the office, they have no memory of anything personal such as if they’re married, have kids, enjoy going to baseball games, or prefer beer over wine. Once they leave the office, their memories return but they have no recollection of their work lives including who their co-workers are, what they do for a living, or any occurrences that take place.

Here’s the trailer:

Whether this sounds appealing or down right terrifying, in our real, non-TV lives, the fact is we bring our WHOLE selves to work. We don’t get to choose what we remember or don’t, and this is a key factor companies need to consider related to their cultures.

What Work-Life Balance Used To Be

According to Business News Daily, “Work-life balance is the state of equilibrium where a person equally prioritizes the demands of one’s career and the demands of one’s personal life.” In other words, work-life balance used to mean balancing the time we spend at work with the time we spend at home.

Many companies embody the notion that work is only a place to work and home is a place to do everything else. In these environments, people are encouraged to keep their personal information private, check emotions at the door, and essentially pretend there is nothing else more important in their lives than the job at hand. Here, managers lead in a way that doesn’t take into account what might be going on in an employee’s personal life, such as having a baby, getting married, getting divorced, or dealing with aging parents, just to name a few situations. Work performance is measured strictly by results, not collaboration, innovation, or employee satisfaction. The perceived benefit is people will be more productive and less distracted.

Today, there is plenty of evidence that shows this way of thinking and managing people isn’t in everyone’s best interests.

Our Whole Worlds at Work

The pandemic’s forced-working-from-home period gave us an intimate peek into the personal lives of employees and co-workers. For the first time, we realized people have toddlers (and teenagers), roommates, elderly parents, pets, messy apartments, beautiful houses, unfinished basements, and more. There are countless memes about funny things that happened during those first few weeks of Zoom meetings.

This insight should change the way we see each other at work.

Today, we bring our whole world, not just our whole selves, to work including our families, home environments, and anything else that can add or subtract from our work day, whether our company likes it or not. We can’t simply sever ties between the various roles we play because our worlds are more integrated than ever. And we can use this to our advantage.

The Benefit of Bringing Our Whole Selves to Work

As we have started to return to the office, we have newfound appreciation for the home lives of the people we work with. As leaders, we can have more compassion, understanding, and empathy. It doesn’t mean we don’t hold workers to the same standards and keep them accountable for delivering what they’re being paid to do. Instead, it allows managers to lead in more effective, motivating ways that take into account an employee as a whole to maximize their productivity and ultimately, satisfaction. 

For example, knowing an employee has a newborn might lend itself to scheduling meetings at certain times during the day. Or, giving workers the flexibility to attend their kids’ games or practices and then finish work later at night, can help them feel seen and valued. Overall, allowing for more choice about when and where to work leads to happier employees.

Work-Play Balance

As experts in fun, we know there is an even more effective way to lead fully integrated lives: finding the balance between work and play. We need to intentionally set aside time for play alongside work for health benefits, mental breaks, and pure enjoyment.

It might feel daunting to introduce this in a workplace setting, but we promise this isn’t a scary concept. We work with clients who already understand the benefit of maintaining a healthy culture. That’s why they hire us to infuse fun and break up the monotony of day-to-day work. 

We help balance how we play at work and work at play.

A Human-Centric Approach

More companies are starting to embrace the benefits of treating employees as whole people – that is, people with families and hobbies and passions outside of the job. When we get to know each other as humans first and workers second, good things happen. We tend to collaborate more, become more innovative, and be more productive. This is why we’re so passionate about Team Connecting.

If you’re wondering how to create more human-centric interactions that help your team with work-life integration and work-play balance, we can help. We produce professionally-hosted events designed to bring people together through FUN! 

Let us know what you’re looking for, and we’ll do the rest!