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What is work-life integration and how it works...?

Posted on December 31st, 2020

For years, the gap between personal life and professional life has been fading away. Call it work from the office, work from home, or hybrid work, the demarcation between office and home is getting thinner with each passing day. This has led to new concepts such as work-life balance, work-life integration and so on. But, what difference will such concepts bring in our personal and professional lives, especially, the now-booming concept- WORK-LIFE INTEGRATION.

Well, before getting into details about the pros and cons let us get an overview.

Work-life integration defined:

The progress of technology, enhanced means of communication and taking work to homes have all increasingly made it difficult to divide between professional work and personal work. In other words, the difference between home and office is no more. On the negative front, this may sound a bit embarrassing but, when an employee knows how to integrate life & work the scenario is different and often positive. And this is what work-life integration aims at: unifying (integrating) personal and professional works in a way that supports each other instead of competing with each other.

With this said, don’t confuse work-life integration with work-life balance. The latter aims at completely unplugging each other while the former aims at plugging each of them. To clearly explain, bringing your child to the office after his/her school hours is an example of work-life integration whereas picking an appropriate time to drop your child at home is an example of work-life balance.

Both are entirely different but both aim at employee overall wellbeing & progress. The only major difference is, integration aims at meaningful mixing of work and life whereas balance aims at disintegrating work and life thereby giving a strict time zone for each.

Benefits of work-life integration:

The biggest advantage of work-life integration is the possibility of giving equal attention and time to all walks of life, without the need to either sacrifice your personal life or postpone your office work.

Other benefits include:

A new attitude towards work: Combining professional works with personal works will make daily works less monotonous. An employee instead of actively counting down the hours until he/she can reach home to spend with family can actually be working from home but still spending quality time with family members.

A realistic approach: Marking out strict time divisions for home chores and office works can at times be practically difficult, importantly, in a scenario where more and more employers are preferring hybrid work culture. In such scenarios, this sort of approach gives practical feasibility as you can manage time effectively for both works.

Work prioritization is easy and effective: Managing productive time becomes easy. Persons can do more pressing works firsthand followed by lesser important works. Here, by saying works, we mean both office-related works and home-related ones. The reason: Your office at times can be your home and at times your home can be your office.

Few examples of how you can use office and home interchangeably:

  • Your house becomes your office when you reply to emails or answer calls related to work.
  • Your office becomes your home when you have the facility to accommodate your children.
  • Your office can as well be a place for your overall wellbeing say, you can work out in the office gym or get trained in a course that adds to your talent pool.

With all these said, creating a work-life integration atmosphere is easier said than done. However, on the whole, at least employees and employers should effort to implement it wherever and whenever possible as it would soon be the work norm. In fact, it is more resourceful, productive and meaningful way of encouraging the employees to be true to their selves and committed to the organizations.

Here are a few ways by which both employee and employer can work towards successful work-life integration:

  • Look out for flexible hours, meaning which days/hours need a strict presence in the office for meetings, reviews, or other key important decision-making works.
  • Figure out the needs and prioritize them.
  • Once prioritization is done, fix a timetable and stick to it. Also, ensure you listen to your body clock before making one.
  • Coordinate the plans. A mere making of timetable won’t work if there is no proper coordination and this coordination holds good to your office colleagues and family members.
  • Do not count on hours instead count ‘what value you added to your professional and personal lives'.
  • Mark some boundaries, although a useful method to strike a balance between life and work, overdoing it may cause some difficulties.

In the end, ensure this mode is actually working out for you. While a few may benefit from this, a few may not. So, in the end, a proper analysis should be done.

After all, all methods aim at employee wellness and employer progress.

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