"Work" Is Not a Place

In a knowledge economy, "work" is not a place. "Work" is something you do. Balancing work and not-work is a matter of knowing what results are expected and desired, and how best to achieve those results in a way that brings satisfaction with work and with the non-work parts of life.

Being able to work anytime, anywhere is not the same as working all the time, everywhere. We are used to associating the time we are "at work" (when it was a place) with the time we are (or are supposed to be) working. That correlation no longer applies. The decision about when to work is no longer closely tied to the decision about where to work, and the factors to be considered in making the decision about when to work have shifted. We've gone from "I'm at work, therefore I work" to "I have something that I want to get done, therefore I work."

 As a manager, your responsibility is to ensure that those you manage understand what you expect them to get done, by when, and what qualifies as acceptable, excellent, and outstanding results. Two things that managers focus on and that are ultimately irrelevant and counterproductive are how much time employees spend "at work," and precisely how they get the desired results. 

As a person who reports to a manager, your responsibility is to ensure that you understand clearly what are the results you are expected to produce, by when, and what will get you to that "outstanding" level. 

Ultimately, work-life satisfaction hinges on clear and direct communication between managers and those they manage. In any organization, this clarity has to start at the top, because a badly managed manager can't help but pass that along to those they manage.

Those being managed cannot afford to be passive, either. Ask questions and request the information, tools, and team members you need to get the results you have been asked to produce.