Why Jeff Bezos doesn’t believe in work-life balance: ‘It actually is a circle’

Jeff Bezos
Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos. Alex Wong/Getty Images
  • Amazon’s Jeff Bezos said in 2018 that the term “work-life balance” was a “debilitating phrase.”
  • A top piece of advice he offers to workers is not to view the two as a strict trade-off.
  • Instead, he sees his personal and professional pursuits as a “circle” rather than a balancing act.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos, isn’t a fan of the phrase “work-life balance.”

At an April 2018 event hosted by Insider’s parent company, Bezos said new Amazon employees shouldn’t view work and life as a balancing act. Instead, Bezos said it’s more productive to view them as two integrated parts.

“It actually is a circle,” Bezos said. “It’s not a balance.”

Bezos said his new hires should stop trying to find “balance” within their professional and personal lives since that implied a strict trade-off between the two. Instead, Bezos envisions a more holistic relationship between work and life outside the office.

“This work-life harmony thing is what I try to teach young employees and actually senior executives at Amazon too,” Bezos said. “But especially the people coming in. I get asked about work-life balance all the time. And my view is, that’s a debilitating phrase because it implies there’s a strict trade-off.”

Bezos said he didn’t compartmentalize his career and his personal life.

“If I am happy at home, I come into the office with tremendous energy,” Bezos said. “And if I am happy at work, I come home with tremendous energy.”

The billionaire Amazon founder got a new kind of workflow over the summer when he stepped down from his role as CEO of the e-commerce giant. He was replaced by Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy and plans to direct his focus to other endeavors, like space exploration and philanthropy.

Historically, the world’s richest man has taken a nontraditional approach to work: He has said he made time for breakfast every morning with his family, doesn’t set his alarm before going to bed, schedules surprisingly few meetings, and set aside a few minutes every day to wash his own dishes.

Read — and watch — the full interview with Bezos here.