The Fall 2022 issue explored a space where many of us spend most of our waking hours: work. The coronavirus pandemic prompted many workers—and businesses—to reassess their relationship to work, taking a good, hard look at the way we’ve done things in the past and, hopefully, finding ways we might do better in the future.
Our issue tackled major challenges and emerging solutions to making work work better for more people, up to and including the abolition of work. While abolishing work altogether might be a long way off, shifting the culture toward a more humane understanding of labor requires our collective imagination. In that spirit of generative dreaming, we asked YES! readers online to share their ideas for an ideal work-life balance—and were impressed by these thoughtful responses:
For me, the word “balance” doesn’t quite fit in the discussion of work and life. To me, balance implies the scales being at rest, a certain equality between two things. But in reality, I think the scales should be heavily weighted toward whatever gives each person satisfaction and peace, and maybe even joy. If we’re imagining, then I’d like to aim for the sky. For me, that means paid employment that is really part of my life, instead of a contest between the two, or paid employment that meets my material needs but easily takes a back seat to the rest of my life, where my real work—creating a kinder, more compassionate world—takes place. I’m not seeking balance, I’m seeking supremacy for what truly matters and gives meaning. —Lindsey Britt, Brattleboro, Vermont
Forty hours that include commute time. Hybrid working environments, summer slowdowns across as many industries [and] professions [as possible]. —Nikki McIntosh, Martinez, California
I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t dream of labor. I want work that doesn’t feel like work, and I want it to be part of my life, not separate. I want to bring my gifts forward and share them when I am doing my work. Not that that won’t be challenging at times, but it’s hard to feel a sense of well-being when the systems tangle up my energy away from where and with whom it would most serve. To put simply: at least a cultural shift to four-day workweeks. Pay for quality > quantity of work. Better paid parental leave. Universal menstrual leave. To name a few. —Kyle Rhodes, Bend, Oregon