“After more than a decade in People Operations, I believe that the experience of work can be — should be — so much better.”
With all due respect, most of us reached the same conclusion by the end of the first week of our careers.
We all have our opinions and case studies, but there is precious little scientific certainty around how to build great work environments, cultivate high performing teams, maximize productivity, or enhance happiness.
Google is doing a major, longitudinal study about work/life balance and the factors that shape employee attitudes and behaviors. One outcome should be a better understanding of the well-being of workers. But there may be other benefits as well:
Beyond work-life balance there are any number of fascinating puzzles that we hope this longitudinal approach can help solve. For a given type of problem, what diverse characteristics should a team possess to have the best chance of solving it? What are the biggest influencers of a satisfying and productive work experience? How can peak performance be sustained over decades? How are ideas born and how do they die? How do we maximize happiness and productivity at the same time?
That last question is a good one. One answer is that productivity can be a component of happiness. I’m not sure where I fall on Google’s spectrum of “Segmentors,” who uncouple work stress from the rest of their lives, and “Integrators’” who never quite unplug. Work is in my mental RAM even on weekends, but I also take the time to walk my dog during the workday. Feels like balance to me.