Can You Attain the Balance Between Work and Life?
27 May, 2014
By Rachel Duran
No matter how you refer to the concept of quality of life, it is an absolute that talent continues to demand a balance between their private lives and their work lives. Balance is referred to as achieving harmony, happiness, healthfulness, the ability to disconnect from technology, being more spiritually and purposely centered — the list goes on.
Others see the balance as more of a blending of life and work. “When I talk about life and work balance I see it not so much as balance but as a blending,” says Charlie Grantham, founder, Community Design Institute, based in Prescott, Ariz. He works in the organizational development field with leadership teams and with individuals to determine what they do best and move them into a position to do so.
“When you are working on your own purpose as an individual, your work and livelihood becomes an extension of that,” Grantham says. “Not to get too preachy, but when people get into that they don’t see a difference between their life and their work; it is all one thing together. But they are operating on purpose and that is the spiritual part of it, figuring out what your strength is and how you can live that out.”
Implications on Business
Talent, companies and business leaders are exploring and implementing a variety of methods to help talent achieve a work and life balance. This spring, news coming out of France had the business world buzzing about the idea of talent being able to “disconnect” from work-related email correspondence after 6 p.m. It was falsely reported that a law had passed allowing workers in certain industries to sign off. In actuality, an agreement was entered between two groups of employers and French unions to allow certain independent workers the “obligation to disconnect,” because they are governed differently than full-time workers under French labor laws.
“That is the No. 1 thing employers are looking for; an adept, adaptable, creative workforce. The second thing is they want that workforce to be supported by the place where they work. And the place where they work must be inspirational.” – Eric Tomlinson, president, Wake Forest Innovation Quarter, and chief innovation officer of the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center
The upshot of the buzz is that it had a part in continuing the conversation about the importance of the role of quality of life to the workforce. In Winston-Salem, N.C., officials at the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter have developed a workforce “for creativity in biomedical sciences, IT and material sciences,” says Eric Tomlinson, president, Wake Forest Innovation Quarter, and chief innovation officer of the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. “That is the No. 1 thing employers are looking for; an adept, adaptable, creative workforce. The second thing is they want that workforce to be supported by the place where they work. And the place where they work must be inspirational.” He says these spaces must be supported by social aspects.
“That comes in all manner of different forms,” Tomlinson says. Wake Forest’s quarter has internal and external spaces that are used for social interactions. This includes opening up one of the facilities to professional groups and others to host speakers, TED lectures and luncheon events.
Another resource is a former rail track that is being transformed to a strollway, which will connect with others in the city to create 20 miles of contiguous track for walking and cycling. Another development is a new 1.6-acre park, available to the public, which will open in the fall. The space will host movie nights, live music and other cultural events. “We spend money and time thinking about how we activate spaces to the benefit of social interaction,” Tomlinson says.
The Wake Forest Innovation Quarter, a 145-acre urban-based research park, is an example of a community reshaping infrastructure to support changing work styles and lifestyles. The quarter is located in formerly vacant tobacco warehouses in downtown Winston-Salem. In addition to the research component, the quarter aspires to fulfill the live, learn, work and play mantra, and features buildings that have been turned into condos and apartments. Federal and state tax credits of more than $155 million have supported revitalization efforts. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., which gifted several of the buildings, along with public leaders, and Wexford Science & Technology LLC, a BioMed Realty Trust company that has so far invested $250 million in the development, have been critical to the efforts.
Moving to the West Coast, the 15-year-old city of Kenmore, Wash., located in the Puget Sound region, is a city where leaders aspire to create sustainable developments and pleasing designs. The city is home to 21,000 people and is located near major employment centers in Kirkland, Redmond, Bellevue and Seattle. As a young community, the city completed its first new building three years ago, city hall, which is LEED certified gold. A block away the King County Library System built a new library, which has won architectural awards. And Bastyr University has opened a new housing complex on its campus that is LEED certified platinum.
“Kenmore is an environment of really bright people who value being outdoors, and having flexibility in how they get around,” says Nancy Ousley, assistant city manager for Kenmore. The city features eight miles of shoreline at the north end of Lake Washington. Officials are building more dock facilities on the waterfront to make boating, kayaking, canoeing and other water sports, more accessible.
From Kenmore, residents are located less than an hour from the Cascade Mountains and opportunities to ski, snowboard, hike, and participate in other outdoor activities. The northern end of Lake Washington features a regional 20-mile trail system called the Burke Gilman Trail. People in Kenmore use the trail to commute by bike to downtown Seattle or to the wine country in Woodinville. Ousley says the city is working to add amenities along the trail. She says even if residents do not commute every day by bike, they appreciate having the option to do so.
In addition to being the home to workers from companies such as The Boeing Co., Microsoft and Google, Kenmore is also home to a cluster of entrepreneurs who find living in the community allows them to stay connected to employment centers and professional communities.
Ousley says local entrepreneurs were the motivation behind the effort to establish an incubation facility in Kenmore. Working with the city council, city officials were able to lease space and set up an incubation facility quickly. Three tech-based companies operate from the incubator; additional entrepreneurs are supported through the virtual incubation program. Ousley believes Kenmore would ideally support co-working hub activities as well.
Bastyr University is a benefit to entrepreneurs and companies in Kenmore. The university is North America’s largest natural health sciences university, Ousley says. The university is located on the edge of a 300-acre state park, which is the last undeveloped waterfront on Lake Washington.
“We are launching a large initiative with Bastyr and the health sciences cluster to encourage them when they think of starting a business or locating somewhere, to think of this area,” Ousley says.
Connections to Businesses and the Outdoors
Beyond keeping companies and their talent engaged in these work and live developments, the space to expand and collaborate with other organizations is also fundamental to their needs.
“The opportunity to be this close to nature and top-notch educational and business and cultural opportunities is really a sweet spot when it comes to attracting and keeping smart, inventive, entrepreneurial people and their businesses engaged. The thing I like about Kenmore is the city has high aspirations.” – Nancy Ousley, assistant city manager for Kenmore, Wash.
The Wake Forest Innovation Quarter features 1.1 million-square-feet of built out space. Employment at the park has grown from 750 people to 3,100 people in 18 months. Companies in the development are located adjacent to many of Wake Forest’s departments, research departments and clinical departments. A co-working innovation space will open soon in the quarter, as well as incubation spaces.
In regard to business activities, a partnership between Inmar and the Wake Forest division of public health sciences (PHS) is an example of organizations located in the quarter connecting with each other. Inmar is a real-time commerce platform for connecting retailers, manufacturers and service providers. The collaboration, which will research new mechanisms to support a more efficient way of conducting clinical trials, came about as the result of an idea that formed during the first meeting of the organizations.
Wake Forest’s PHS and the Physician Assistant programs are relocating to the innovation quarter to the 525@Vine building, which is located across the street from the Wake Forest Biotech Place. “We have great spaces clustered together with easy access between each of the buildings.
“The availability of high quality — and I use the word inspirational deliberately — inspirational space at relatively low costs, alongside a well-trained workforce, with access to Wake Forest and its scholarship base, are the fundamentals here,” Tomlinson continues. “Wrapped in the social enterprise we have to support this work-life harmony.”
Ousley adds, “The opportunity to be this close to nature and top-notch educational and business and cultural opportunities is really a sweet spot when it comes to attracting and keeping smart, inventive, entrepreneurial people and their businesses engaged. The thing I like about Kenmore is the city has high aspirations.”
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Illustration by idea go at Free Digital Photos.net