WHY DON'T I SEE MY FRIENDS ANYMORE?
When was the last time you saw your friends, sans partner or kids, on a regular basis? Yeah, I can’t remember either!
I love how this article in The Atlantic doesn’t reduce this topic to a simple “work-life-balance” choice which is anything but simple, or a choice. Instead, it explores the deeply rooted problem through the historical lens of the twentieth century Soviet Union’s Stalinist experiment, nepreryvka , or the “continuous workweek,” and draws undeniable parallels to modern capitalist life in twenty-first century USA.
Like nepreryvka, modern work has been designed so production never stops. Constant demands and distractions from your in-box have resulted in highly unpredictable schedules for the majority of workers. In previous decades 9-5 was the norm, families ate dinner together, and electronic devices didn’t hold our weekends or evenings hostage. There was a kind of normalcy, a system of work-life balance that has been irrevocably disrupted. And this makes seeing friends, especially while parenting, almost impossible.
We all crave balance, self-care and a social life, but how do we go about finding and sustaining it within an economic system designed to reward those who spend the LEAST amount of time with people they love? In a dominant system driven by profit and growth at all costs how do you carve out precious social time without being left behind at work?
You know, as a small business-builder I ask myself how I can co-create a life with other entrepreneurs who want more than to merely talk about “work-life” balance, people who believe that “balance” should be included on any meaningful balance sheet. I know I’m not the only woman who questions growth for growth’s sake at the expense of sustainability, compassion, and consistent and predictable time with our families and friends. I know many of you question this too.
But not all hope is lost! More and more workers, particularly young X-ers, are demanding something called flexibility. Select cities including Seattle, San Francisco, and New York have enacted “fair workweek” laws mandating predictable schedules for hourly workers that are leading to a larger discussion about the “right to disconnect” - laws that have already passed in France and Italy. While neither country is exactly the model of classic “productivity” perhaps it’s time we redefine, as women with families and friends we want to see, what productivity should mean in 2019.