Work-life balance: it conjures up the image of two polar opposites perched on opposite ends of a teeter-totter. One little breeze could upend the teeter, sending that load sliding onto the other end of the totter.
It gives me a tension headache just thinking about it. Fortunately, greater minds than mine started thinking about it earlier. Lori Long, associate professor of business administration at Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, OH, researches “work-life harmony” instead.
‘Harmony’ conjures up the image of complementary strains making the whole sound better. Any one note in isolation might sound wrong..but together, the composition works.
I interviewed Lori Long for The Career Lattice, which is due out in June 2012 by McGraw Business. She has been tracking lattices even before they sprang on the scene as a solution to work-life conflict endured by consultants.
Like flexwork, the work-life version of lattices quickly was quickly marginalized as a sop to working parents, especially working mothers. And, like flexwork, lattices presented primarily in the context of work-life balance have become ‘defined down’ as a reluctant concession to What Women Must Do To Get Through Parenting Small Children.
The silver lining of the Great Recession is that it has cleared the way for repositioning career lattices as a powerful and sustainable mode of career advancement….for everyone. After all, it’s a lot easier to stay on a lattice than it is to climb off a lattice or a ladder – and then try to get back on.