Laura Iñiguez, Content Manager at Hirebook
Laura is a content and social media strategist with deep experience in Employee Engagement, People Management, and Culture. She works with Hirebook to bring their innovative best practices to life through content, videos, and webinars seen by thousands around the globe.
Pub: December 1 2021
Upd: May 12 2022
We’ve all struggled with keeping a healthy balance between our work life and our personal life. It’s not easy to take care of our families, our health, our personal passions, and even pets while also taking care of our responsibilities at work. Being able to disconnect from one to pay attention to the other is challenging and not quite plausible… so, how do people actually achieve work-life balance?
The thing is… most people don’t! We often find ourselves burdened with feelings of guilt because we can’t be fully present without thinking about other concerns, whether personal or professional. If you’re at a family event and someone from work pings you, you fall into a stressful spiral trying to decide if you should or shouldn’t see what the message is about:
“what if it’s urgent? Well, if it was urgent they’d call… but what if I can just give them a quick answer and move on? But what if it requires some data I don’t have with me right now and I stress out more because I can’t give them that? Should I just ignore it and be present at my family event? I’m off the clock anyway, and if it was urgent they’d definitely call!”
Sounds familiar? Yeah, it’s more common than you’d think. And with remote and hybrid workplaces growing recently, it feels like it’s harder to separate our work life from our personal life. But, what if we shouldn’t separate them and rather integrate them? Could that work?
If you’ve ever felt like living two separate lives is impossible you’re not alone. And this is why lately the world has been moving towards a new trend that blends our professional and personal lives, and workers are no longer searching for work-life balance, but rather a work-life integration.
What is Work-Life Integration?
Work-Life integration refers to blending both our personal and professional obligations and finding areas of compromise. From completing household chores like folding laundry while on a conference call to bringing your children to your office when schools are closed.
This opens a whole new world of possibilities to lower our stress levels and find more fulfillment because we’re able to comply with all of our duties, regardless of their nature. The flexibility behind work-life integration allows employees to coordinate their responsibilities and schedules in a more functional way, providing a higher sense of satisfaction in every aspect of their lives, and therefore, increasing productivity both personally and professionally.
It’s important to note that work-life integration can have a negative impact on employees when not implemented correctly. Work life integration still seeks a certain balance, so if employees don’t set the appropriate boundaries, they’ll find themselves with more stress and experience a considerable decrease in satisfaction and productivity.
Even when many companies are showing their support to the work life integration trend, employers must understand the full concept of work-life integration, encourage employees to hop on this lifestyle, and help them improve their work-life in general.
What is Work-Life Balance?
Unlike work-life integration, a work-life balance seeks to equally prioritize the demands of work and personal life, establishing clear boundaries and a designated schedule to attend to work matters and personal ones.
Unfortunately, with remote and hybrid workplaces on the rise, these boundaries to keep work-life and personal-life separated seem to fade. With employees doing most of their work remotely, they might feel tempted to check their work email or a message from a colleague when they’re off the clock. It’s also difficult to keep a certain schedule when employees may need to spend a little more time at work preparing a big presentation or project, or they might even need a little more time at home because of a family situation. Unexpected scenarios are meant to happen every once in a while, so keeping a steady work-life balance can be quite hard and people can find themselves adjusting this “balance” time and time again.
How to Choose between Work-Life Integration vs. Work-Life Balance?
Both work-life balance and work-life integration are resources looking to achieve an equilibrium between our professional and personal lives; BUT, work-life balance is focused more on making life and work exist separately, and work-life integration looks for both parts to coexist and bring them closer together.
The entire purpose of choosing one or the other is to find harmony. Many professionals argue that work-life integration is the way to go, but it also has its flaws, as work-life balance has its own. So how to decide between work life integration vs balance?
It’s important to take into consideration every activity you do in both aspects of your life and to think about how you usually tackle your tasks. If you feel like interruptions pull you out of focus and it’s difficult to get back in the zone, work-life balance would be the one for you, and you should establish schedules for every activity to help you get everything done on time. If, on the contrary, you’re a person that has a hard time concentrating for long periods of time, work-life integration is the way to go so you can take constant breaks and use them to do your other tasks; this will give you the chance to use your time wisely and be more productive throughout the day.
Ultimately, whichever variant you choose, remember that the whole purpose of them is to help you lower stress, benefit your personal well being and become more efficient. So, don’t get too hung up on the terminology, you can mix and match as you please!
Remember that using a performance management software can be your ally when planning your days, integrating work in your life, and striving to achieve your goals!