In all cases, successful employers during the crisis were those that supported employees in these negotiations, be it with
equipment, job flexibility, technological support, or anything else that could help when help was needed most. Work-life
negotiation requires a high level of trust: managers must trust their people to manage their time efficiently, and employees
must trust their employers to reward productivity and organizational impact, even during atypical hours or through
When these personal negotiations succeed, the result is life-work synergy, which completely reimagines the relationship
between employers and their employees. There are three levels of life-work synergy — a life-work synergy trifecta — employers
can consider to evaluate their current efforts.
The life-work synergy trifecta
• People experience: This starting point is analogous to “employee experience” but extends to life outside of the traditional
office walls and hours. It means simply aiming for positive experiences and interactions. For many businesses, crisis mode
forced them into a state of survival where this kind of supportive, yet transactional, employee-employer relationship was
the best they could hope for.
• Humanizing work: One step further than people experience, humanizing work means people are unafraid to share the
real circumstances of their lives, and feel heard — more crucial than ever when colleagues are physically distant. This may
sound touchy-feely, but the impact is direct: employees who believe managers care about their personal lives are nearly
three times more engaged.
• Human flourishing: This final level in the trifecta sees employers take a vested interest in supporting their people in all
areas of their lives, and actively helping in the negotiations described above. When their company goes out of the way
to help beyond the confines of their roles, employees will never forget it. Flexibility is the name of the game here.
Making time for time off
Another unexpected consequence of the blurred lines between home and work is that employees may not realize the “right” time
to take time off, even to the detriment of their own mental and/or physical well-being. Prior to the pandemic, remote workers
already took less time off on average than their in-office counterparts. Now, more employees than ever are in that category.
Consider the early days of this new year an opportunity to reevaluate your company-wide PTO policies, both during the ongoing
crisis and on a permanent basis beyond. No matter what, communicate regularly and clearly with your workforce about it.
Remind your people that time off is expected and necessary during trying times, and that they are not expected to forgo time
off when working from home. Some employers are even advising employees on how to fully disconnect from their jobs when
on PTO, avoiding the omnipresent temptation to check email or project statuses while “relaxing.”
The future of work is happening now. Take steps to encourage and emphasize time off now to support life-work synergy long
after the crisis is over.