Balancing Act

Exchanging words about work-life.

Early this fall, the Vancouver, British Columbia, Company of Friends group joined John Izzo and Pam Withers, coauthors of Values Shift: The New Work Ethic & What It Means for Business (Wasserman Medical, 2001), for an online discussion. Much of the conversation resonated with our recent feature "Balance Is Bunk!" (October). Here are insights shared by the group.

Accept the disconnects.

"Today there are more career polarities, which I think are not temporary blips but real tensions. For example, work is more important to us and more a part of our identity than ever, but we want to work less and retire earlier," writes Izzo. "We want trust and security, but we also want to be treated like partners."

Check your balance.

"I wonder whether seeking balance is a noble cause because, like so many other noble causes, many people find them impossible to make happen," offers Stewart Marshall. "Despite having the desire to create balance, people are still consumed with fear about their own positions and how it looks to their peers."

Value your sovereignty.

"Discussions like this are only appropriate for white-collar environments with 'trusted' employees," challenges Graham Howe. "In less-developed markets, stealing from your company is an invisible crime, so people take stationery or make long-distance calls. The majority of companies do not want free, independent employees."

Reward hard work.

"When you make everyone accountable for the P&L of the company, the partnership becomes a reality," counters Rajesh Taneja. "At my company, Clear Choice, paychecks suffer when we have a poor month. They're better when we have a good month, and for this, people are given great amounts of autonomy over their work."

Learn more about the Company of Friends on the Web (www.fastcompany.com/cof).

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