Work-life Integration

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As technology enabled people to communicate and/or engage on work projects outside the office, people started focused on the challenges of work-life balance. Many people came up with ideas, such as time-blocking which allowed people to ensure that there was sacred time at home or on vacation when their time with family and personal projects would not be violated. Some companies created policies to protect the balance.

As technology and the economy progressed, people began working virtually, taking on more than one job/gig and realizing that time blocking isn’t enough. They created work-life integration – the process of creating lifestyles that allow you to choose how to allocate time for work, and personal activities either in isolation or in combination as long as it maximizes your ability to be productive and have a fulfilling life.

As Robert Preziosi, a professor of leadership and human resources, notes in an article called The Work-Life Harried-Go-Round, integration blurs the line between work life and personal life in a way that optimizes performance in both areas. “It’s about finding the right ebb and flow of work responsibilities and personal accountabilities.†You mix together work and life to manage consciously what is most important at that time.

Employers who foster such a culture have learned that there is no one-size-fits-all approach. It starts with fitting the person to the job, since the person makes the decision of what and how to do it at his/her discretion. Setting arbitrary benchmarks for workers, such as leaving work by 5 Pm or not answering emails at certain times, generally will not meet the integrators’ needs. The key is to enable integrators to use as many flexible tools, such as mobile devices, teleconferencing, collaborative tools, flextime, etc. so they can meet their work and personal demands as needed.

How are you handling work-life integration? Is your company facilitating the process?  What experiences and insights will help others?  Share with us!