Life-work Synergy in 2021 and Beyond
In early 2020, the spread of COVID-19 forced an unprecedented evolution of workforce policies across every
industry. At the top of the list, many had to scramble to develop a work-from-home strategy for every employee.
While this disruption could be painful and inconvenient, many saw a silver lining — a chance to finally attain the
elusive concept of “work-life balance.” Without a commute, and with more leeway to handle errands and family
needs, employees saw an opportunity for a newfound handle on both halves of their daily lives.
Unfortunately, as months passed in lockdown, the opposite effect began to take hold for many.
Instead of finding balance by unifying home and work into a single physical space, the crucial separation between
the two had been obliterated. Kitchen tables, couches, and beds became desks; kids became rowdy officemates;
video chats stood in for everything from boardroom meetings to water cooler gossip sessions.
While those who had already worked from home for years often flourished, their colleagues new to this
arrangement suffered. Feeling the strain of both work- and home-related stresses simultaneously, these employees
often found that a sensible equilibrium between “home” and “job” was unattainable or even impossible.
After all, workforces are now always connected to their jobs with their smartphone, and children at home don’t
require any less supervision during invisible “business hours.”
The advent of life-work synergy
Instead of balance, workers suddenly found themselves in the middle of a negotiation. Crucial decisions were made
minute-to-minute as to which role needed to be played. Parents put off projects until the evening to help with homework.
Managers had to develop new routines to check on their direct reports. Employees sought assistance to become more
productive in a home office that was never supposed to exist. Others worked extra hours to meet deadlines, and then required
unexpected PTO to help protect their health.