Work-Life Strategies & Solutions

On the Evolution of Work Systems in the Digital Economy

Thoughts on the “This or That? Work-Life Preferences” Survey

Work-Life Balance

Work-Life Balance (Photo credit: Tanja FÖHR)

If you haven’t yet participated in the “This or That? Work-Life Preferences” survey, then you may do so by clicking here! This survey is ongoing. Although just a handful of people have given voice to their preferences so far, these early results have taken me by surprise. I anticipated that there would be a diversity of preferences reflecting the diversity of participants themselves though. Some of the participants explained their choices to me through private messaging conversations which confirmed what I anticipated. The following are just some of the factors that impact people’s preferences.

  1. Familiarity – Some people enjoy familiarity and, in this case, what’s familiar would be the practice of regularly traveling to a centralized office and working face-to-face with a group of people. Hence it is even conceivable for some to choose 40 hours of traditional employment over 40 hours of working when and where they want.
  2. Time devoted to work and work-related activities – Some indicated that they weighed hours spent commuting against the extra hours of work. Thus, if the extra hours of work is less than or equal to the hours spent commuting, they chose to work the extra hours where and when they wanted. However once the extra hours of work surpassed the hours spent commuting, they selected the traditional employment option.
  3. Autonomy (i.e., being able to exercise as much control over the work as possible) – Many of us don’t mind working more hours but have a greater desire to decide when and where we perform the work. This explains why some people have chosen the option of working 80 hours per week over traditional employment.
  4. Distaste for the 9-to-5 office lifestyle – This may or may not be related to autonomy needs. Some of us just hate various aspects of office culture so much that we would choose up to 80 hours of work per week if it meant being able to get as far away as possible from the 9-to-5 office culture.

Finally, I did not spell out whether the condition under which people worked extra hours but had control over when and where they work was equated with regular employment or self-employment. However, one survey taker commented on how favoring control over the hours of work is so much more important to her. As someone who is self-employed, she pointed out that no matter how many hours of work she was receiving, she could bill them and contract out some of the work to others.

Thanks to all those who took the survey so far. I’m looking forward to seeing what others will choose and to any feedback you have! Sharing this survey with others is also appreciated.

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