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The workplace often brings together people of various backgrounds, including ethnicity, race, gender, economic status and geography. Yet there is one factor that looms as large as any and that is generational.

By generational, I do not primarily mean what all the books on this subject mean, about the differences of attitudes of Baby Boomers, Gen X and Millennials. What I am speaking of here is what your non-work life looks like.

To be specific, when you clock out of work, are you going home to a full nest or empty nest? For some, a full nest looks like young children or teens. For others, it could be an ageing parent or family in your care. Whatever the case, there are things that full nesters can learn from empty nesters, and vice versa, including the following:

  1. Set ground rules for after hours

In the modern office setting, tools of technology including laptops and smartphones have greatly aided remote working opportunities. At the same time, they have become a tether to the workplace for the ordinary person. If you are an empty nest boss, for example, talk with your employees about what you expect from them after hours. If you send an email at 9 p.m. about routine, non-emergency work matters, do you expect a reply that same day or can it wait until the next day? By being clear about technology, it can improve communication and ease tension.

  1. Expect the unexpected

For people who are caretakers, whether parents or people caring for loved ones, the unexpected happens. This comes in the form of sickness. This comes in the form of sudden schedule changes. People who do not have others relying on them day to day sometimes forget how quickly a schedule can get turned upside by others. Those who do have others in their care should do their best to plan ahead and ease work interruptions, but when the unexpected happens, patience is key.

  1. Empty nesters have lives too

For full nesters, it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking empty nesters have it easy. “They can just go home and watch TV or do whatever, whereas I come home to even more needs than I had at work,” someone might think. The fact is, all of us have obligations and lives. We volunteer, serve in our churches and communities and yes, need entertainment too. If you are a full nester, don’t assume empty nesters have it easy and don’t get envious. Be thankful that God has put this person in your life and learn what you can from them. If you are a so-called empty nester, be glad for that person who is raising kids or caring for a relative, and learn what you can from them.

The Bible serves as a reminder that God’s people come from all walks of life. Some of us have a lot of people in our direct care, while others have fewer. In the workplace, if we can take that into account, it will make us more patient, more effective and betters servants to the Lord. We’ll all be better together, by God’s grace.