Work-Life Synchronicity

Work-Life Synchronicity

Jennifer Pollack Percival (Florida Atlantic University, USA)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 9
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1049-9.ch085


Strategic leaders require the skills needed to manage both professional and personal responsibilities. The previous goal of accomplishing balance by being proficient in maintaining an evenness between “home life” and “work life” is no longer sufficient. The path to equilibrium has transformed from compartmentalized structures to a more fluid way of living due to advances in technology and a changing society. This chapter will introduce the concept of Work-Life Synchronicity. The history of work-life balance will be examined, and the way in which technology has impacted how work time and home time are being intertwined and synthesized will be discussed. The importance of how synchronicity impacts organizational success and productivity in relation to effective leadership and business practices will also be explored. The intended audience of this chapter is scholars, students, professors, and other professionals in the field of leadership.
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The amount of time we spend connected to our phones and computers is staggering. In America 90% of adults own a cell phone, 42% own a tablet, and 63% are using their phones for internet access (Pew Internet Project, 2014). Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends Report (2015) indicated that Americans looked at their phones approximately 150 times per day in 2013 and the report shows that Americans spent 5.6 hours per day on the internet by 2015. We are texting with loved ones, checking our game status in Words with Friends, and being distracted by photos of the newest baby on Instagram. We are taking voice memos, creating spreadsheets, and texting our boss. Our Facebook accounts not only share information about our recent family vacations, but we “like” a company’s page or “share” an interesting grant project with our co-workers who are listed as “friends” (Facebook, 2015). On our phones we tap the blue email box on the screen and, millimeters away from our personal email account, we have access to our work email. Our LinkedIn app is a neighbor with our Pinterest app, quite literally adjoining our resume and professional network with our interests in recipes, hairstyles, and cool car concepts we are following. Technology and relational space is a portrait of modern day living. Life has never been more synchronized as when we hold the representation of our personal and professional selves in our hands.

Work-life synchronization, a process of integrating work time and home time, has emerged as a result of technology and society. Before the days of cell phones and internet we called the office of a manager or company leader and a secretary was traditionally positioned as the designated gatekeeper. The primary method of reaching into the work day was through another individual and only at the times the leader indicated availability. When the work day used to end at 5pm, calls to the home to discuss work during non-working time were less frequent. Social events, golf outings, and corporate dinners may have occurred outside of typical working hours, but those were outings scheduled and considered part of one’s professional obligations. Today, people are no longer required to even dial a number to make contact with a leader while that person is at work, at home, or on a vacation across the globe. A disgruntled customer can email a complaint while we are eating lunch and a child can send a message to a parent during an important sales pitch. Texting, email, and social media allows people to connect at any time of the day or night, and potentially all day and night.

Technology also plays a significant role in how we communicate with and access to the outside world while at work. When leaders are facilitating a staff meeting, how many of the employees in the room are looking down at their phone or typing on a computer? Are staff taking meeting notes, or shopping on Amazon? Leaders need to not only be aware of their own work-life struggles, but also those of their employees. When constant admittance of distraction is the norm in the working environment leaders are faced with the issue of how to reconcile the needs of their workforce with the needs of their organization. One option is to ban all external communication, but how does that impact morale? When companies do not allow cell phones in the office are more employees taking extended bathroom breaks to sneak into their text messaging inbox? Leaders need to consider at what point policing communication becomes such an exertion of resources and effort that it is no longer worth the outcome. Corporate culture is influenced by a company’s view and actions related to what is determined to be important to employees. Leaders should consider how they want to shape their values and how the lives of their employees are a part of their vision.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Synchronicity: Bringing together separate constructs in a manner that is integrated.

Compartmentalization: Isolation and separation to prevent connection or combination.

Gatekeeper: A person or boundary set up to prevent access or grant admission.

Home Life: The time spent participating in family activities, rest, and exploring interests not related to employment.

Balance: Maintaining weight or energy on separate sides of a fulcrum so that each side remains even.

Work Life: Time and energy spent completing tasks related to employment.

Stakeholder: A person interested or invested in an outcome.

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