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In our early days as a firm, rpk GROUP focused intently on its business model. And we worked hard on every day that ended in “y.” We also considered the foundational elements of the kind of firm we wanted to be, asking ourselves how it might be possible to create a remote firm that enabled people to do great work, but do it within an environment that both respected and allowed for a healthy balance between work and life.  (Back in 2010, that was somewhat revolutionary stuff.)

You have to be intentional about the culture of a firm and the creation of that culture – especially when you have a firm that operates 100% remotely. In the 12 years that our team has spent working to build that firm, we’ve invested in growing deep roots for rpk’s culture.  You might see that in mundane things like starting each Monday’s huddle with celebrations.  And you’d see it in the deeper ways that the team has flexibility in how they get the work done.

Of course, the way you express your culture evolves over time. This year, in particular, we’ve spent more time focusing on work/life balance and how to move closer to the ideal we have.

At our fall in-person retreat, we focused our agenda around this ideal. What exactly do we mean by work/life balance? And just as importantly, what didn’t we mean? What obstacles were getting in the way of that balance? And how could we take concrete actionable steps to move towards a greater realization of that ideal?

In terms of that goal, a few key points emerged:

  • Work/life balance doesn’t mean 50/50. It’s not that half of your life is work, and the other half simply isn’t. In our modern lives, we all know that the line between work and our personal lives has gotten increasingly blurred. That’s unlikely to change. And it means that we have to own how we respond to the messiness of bringing these components of our lives together.
  • We need the ability to take true breaks. Putting the proverbial pencil down enables us to be fully present in our personal lives. This way, we’re not constantly oscillating between working and not working.
  • Deep work requires space. Our team realized that we need to have sufficient bandwidth to go deep within our work.

Several action steps emerged from that team dialogue. We’re scheduling those late-night emails to go out first thing in the morning instead. We’re blocking out time during the week with “no meeting days” to go deep in our work.  And while rpk continues to offer unlimited PTO, we’ve elected to close more often. rpk will close for the first time ever for its winter recess from December 24, 2022, through January 2, 2023. During this time, my colleagues and I will rest, recharge and spend time with those we’re closest to. I’m personally looking forward to celebrating the holidays and sharing moments big and small uninterrupted, with the knowledge that we’ve done great work in 2022 and that our launch into new partnerships can wait until the start of a new year.

The truth is, work/life balance is one of those things you never completely achieve, you just keep moving a little bit closer. I’m proud of our team’s efforts to live into our culture, freeing energy for our vibrant lives outside of work.

For now, I’ll close with the words shared by my great friend and coach, Darcie Milazzo, in her holiday message: “We are at rest for the next couple of weeks.” And that is my wish for all of you. Be at rest and fill back up in anticipation of a new year.

Be well.