Work-Life Integration: A New “Normal” In the Post-Pandemic Era
The term “work-life balance” was believed to have been first used in the 1980s. Since then, it has been used broadly to refer to other activities and concerns such as the need for more boundaries, family time, and self-care. But with the pandemic came blurred lines between work and home as more and more employees began working remotely. Instant messaging applications and smartphones have made it more difficult to create a distinction between work and home.
The concept of “work-life integration” has popularized over the recent years, but what does it mean? And what implications are there?
Work-life balance focuses on creating clear boundaries between your job and personal life. On the other hand, work-life integration is an approach that blends both personal and professional responsibilities, all areas that define “life.” It’s about creating compromise and flexibility. Professionals who have children, elderly parents and other extracurricular responsibilities can find it easier to coordinate their schedules and responsibilities. Or even if you’re just someone who enjoys what you do, it’s a term that properly reflects your lifestyle.
But of course, not having proper boundaries set can lead to burnout so it’s important that, as a manager and leader, you reiterate that work-life integration is something healthy and should improve their work-life. Tailoring your team member’s responsibilities to their work style and personal situation can help create a more productive, balanced work environment after all.
In the Workplace
As task demands and work contents change, the way we approach our professional and personal lives should modify along with them. According to Dr. Rebecca Mannis, learning specialist at Ivy Prep Learning Center, work-life integration is “a necessary component of our overall physical health, mental health, productivity, and engagement.”
But each person is different. If being interrupted pulls you out of focus, then work-life balance would be more suited for you. On the contrary, if you’re someone that has troubles concentrating for long periods of time, work-life integration might be more suited to give you the chance to use your time wisely and be more productive throughout the day. The expectation that someone should always be working is something to let go of. Seeking work-life integration is not something that should be viewed as a luxury or something to feel guilty about. 67% of Americans desperately want more time for themselves, but one in three feel guilty about taking it.
Whichever variant you choose or promote, the ultimate goal is to help you and your team lower stress, benefit personal well being, and become more efficient and productive. We’ve all struggled with keeping a healthy balance between our work life and our personal life. As an employer, understanding work-life integration can help you encourage others to hop on this lifestyle, and help them improve their work-life in general.