(Note: The following piece was written by Laura Wallace, the General Manager of the New York Metro District for Microsoft Corp.) In the dialogue around the work-life balance, I find the very idea that “balance” is achievable, a little flawed. It suggests that we can make a choice to either put on our professional or personal hat – that the end goal is to find a way to seamlessly, magically jump in and out of these roles.
In my experience, the real quest worth embarking upon is not treating the two as competing interests, but as roles that can co-exist. “Work-life integration” is a more realistic goal in my life, where I sometimes have to – or want to – wear both hats at once. In my work helping local business customers adopt technologies that empower them to succeed, I hear this same realistic take on “work-life balance.” I’m proud that Microsoft is driving innovations like the new Windows 8 OS and Surface tablet, which make it incredibly easy to assimilate and accomplish great things in all areas of our lives.
Windows 8 is particularly suited to support work-life integration because many of its features pull double – even triple – duty, just like many of us. The system’s touch-oriented interface provides users with quick and natural access to the programs, apps and functionality they need so that succeeding in personal and professional realms is no longer an “either/or” proposition.
Touch isn’t the only new feature that makes work easier and play a lot more fun. Here are just a few of the highlights:
- Multi-tackling. Windows 8’s Snap feature allows you to use two apps side-by-side so that you can keep an eye on your music playlist while working on a report, schedule appointments while enjoying friends’ social media updates… or any other integration of work-life tasks. You’ll be able to accomplish more than ever, and do it more seamlessly, with the ability to conduct instant searches from any app you're in and fire up familiar programs in a heartbeat.
- No-brainer (but secure) access.With Windows 8, you can enable a picture password option. This is a fun, easy and secure way to access your computer. Under the PC Settings "Sign-in options" will be the "Create a picture password" button. Choose any picture and then define three gestures – circles, swipes or clicks – anywhere on the image and you’ve just created a less complex, but highly personal and secure password.
- Nearly-there, always-on collaboration. Getting work done outside of the office setting no longer needs to be an inferior experience. In fact, it can be even more satisfying and effective with Windows 8. SkyDrive provides a cloud-based collaboration space, where file and document management is simple and integrated. And for times when nothing can replace a face-to-face interaction, Skype facilitates more in-depth group communications, with free Skype-to-Skype calls and video calls, and low rates to landlines and mobile phones.
- Social media sharing. The less toggling between apps, the more time you have to get things done. Windows 8 is Microsoft’s first social-media-aware PC operating system. Using the Share button located on the Charms bar, you can pick any number of elements from your Windows 8 Store apps — for example, a location from your Maps app or an article from the Finance app —and distribute that item to friends via other Windows 8 programs.
- A seriously fun device. Microsoft’s new Windows 8 RT-powered Surface is an environment where all of your personal and professional computing needs come to life. It allows you to get work done how, when and where you want, with touch or type options, the power of Microsoft Office, and the joy of Xbox gaming. It’s beautifully functional, with an integrated Kickstand for hands-free entertainment, and the agility to move between personal and professional work.
If you’ve always wondered when work-life balance was going to feel as effortless as it sounds, the time might be now, with innovations like Windows 8 and Surface on the market. They just might make the impossible seem possible, at last! Learn more about – and purchase – Windows 8 and the Surface tablet at a nearby Microsoft Store or online today, to set yourself down the path toward integration.