A 25-year New York Times veteran, Lisa Belkin is best known for her column Life's Work, a must-read for many—especially women—who are juggling careers and a home life. Jean talks with Lisa about her column and Americans' changing attitudes toward a work-life balance.
Lisa says her column began with the onset of what she labeled the "Opt-Out Revolution"—a time in the late 1990s when she says many successful women were leaving the workforce to raise their families. "I thought I would [write the column] for a year and I said, 'As soon as I start to repeat myself, as soon as I write on the same topic twice, it is time to stop.' Well, it has been eight years," Lisa says.
While technology and the Internet has made it easier for many to work flexible schedules and find more of a work-life balance, Lisa says the idea of flextime in the workplace overall is slow moving. First of all, Lisa says employers need to redefine their idea of full-time job. "Does it mean your butt has to be in the seat or does it mean you [just] get the work done and ready to turn in when it is needed?" she says.
Lisa believes flextime is a more viable option than people think. "It is not simple, but I suspect that there are far more times—if presented as a cogent and calm and well-thought-out plan—[flextime] would be accepted," she says. "It's just an awful lot of people never ask."
Coming up with a perfect solution to fit everyone's work and home schedules is not easy, and Lisa says she expects to continue writing her column about the work-life balance for some time. "I would be very happy to not have anything left to write about, but I don't think that is going to happen for a very long time because there will always be life and there will always be work and they will always collide to some extent," she says.
Published on August 13, 2007