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Boundmakers Review

Work-Life Balance or Work-Life Integration?

According to UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, worklife integration is “an approach that creates more synergies between all areas that define ‘life‘: work, home/family, community, personal well-being, and health.” This approach emphasizes gentle pivots rather than hard boundaries between different areas of life.

Whereas work-life balance is a separation of your professional and personal lives, work-life integration is a connection between work and life.

Jeff Bezos recently has shared is take on work-life integration saying that instead of viewing work and life as a balancing act it is more productive to view them as two integrated parts. For Bezos, actually, work-life is a circle, not a balance.

His insight is quite aligned with research that is demonstrating that organizations should embrace a no separation perspective and clearly involve people in the design and implementation of best work-life practices.

The first step when promoting work-life integration is to not assume that a new work practice like remote work or telecommuting will be a well fit for all.

People should always be consulted, and several policies or practices should be adapted to different work styles or preferences.

Organizations also need to consider that employees might need training to improve their work-life integration strategies and habits. Not all of us have the same level of competence when addressing and juggling personal, professional and family demands in their life.

Also, leaders should be trained to detect early signs of exhaustion in their team members and proactively suggest time off or flexible work arrangements as a burnout prevention strategy.

Not to forget that leading by example is critical in workplace integration so the behavior of the leader is a strong model for the rest of the team.

A strong pressure exists for organizations to embrace flextime or even reduced hours of work and research is showing that more flexibility is correlated with better retention (particularly millennials) but also an increase in efficiency and productivity.

With more flexible work arrangements people are able to get work done but still attend their child soccer game or participate in a family celebration.

A change in leadership culture is critical since until now leaders valued time at work in the office as an effective performance management indicator but actually, it’s not the quantity of the time that determines performance outputs. And excessive time at work without good work recovery strategies in place, whether during the day or outside of work is strongly correlated to burnout and poor performance. The answer is not to encourage more work, but more efficient work.

It is also important not just to consider bringing the work home, but also bringing home to work. Examples of these practices are for example, involving employee family members in any organizational activities such as bringing your children to a Christmas event, or even their parents.

Activities such as these, make employees feel seen and valued as human and helps family members to better understand the work culture of the organization their loved ones work for.

Organizations should also give their employees time to pursue creative projects outside of their normal work demands, Google, for example, has a 20% program which allows developers to spend 20% of their time on creative side projects that shows considerable positive reactions and results.

Finally, organizations should embrace a full work-life cycle approach offering policies, solutions, services and benefits that could follow the entire life of the employees’ experience, helping them with work-life integration in several life challenges from a young adult to a senior employee.

Valcour, P. M., & Hunter, L. W. (2004). Technology, organizations, and work-life integration. In Work and life integration (pp. 76–98). Psychology Press.

Morris, M. L., & Madsen, S. R. (2007). Advancing work — Life integration in individuals, organizations, and communities. Advances in developing human resources, 9(4), 439–454.

Williams, J. C., Berdahl, J. L., & Vandello, J. A. (2016). Beyond work-life “integration”. Annual review of psychology, 67, 515–539.

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Liliana Dias

Liliana Dias

Women, Mother, Doer, Student, Circler, Traveler, Book Addict and an engaged Citizen of the World! https://linktr.ee/qinzedias

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