TECH, BUSINESS AND CAREER INSIGHTS

Work-Life Integration: The New Work-Life Balance

By: Justin Brown | @chinesehand

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Professionals used to invest time and energy into attempting to balance their work and personal lives. Many articles and books have been dedicated to the topic, begging the question, is it possible to have both a successful career and fulfilling personal life? The answer? Yes! The secret? It starts with accepting that especially in today’s connected world, there is no such thing anymore as work-life balance.

That might sound harsh and a bit scary at first, but it’s true – and it can be a good thing, once you learn how to work around the fact. Think about it: you know you check (and likely respond to) your work email from your personal phone when you’re home for the night, and you know you answer calls and texts from your kids or personal contacts while you’re at the office.

Work and life have become more and more integrated as technology has advanced, keeping us connected at all times. Because of this, today’s professionals are better off ditching the idea of work-life balance and adopting a more up-to-date (and realistic) concept: work-life integration.

Work-life integration isn’t a bad thing, and it certainly doesn’t mean work OR life have to take precedence over the other. Rather, they work together in harmony to allow working people to accomplish all that they wish to, by adopting a flexible mindset.

Here a few factors that have made work-life balance a thing of the past:

ADVANCING (MOBILE) TECHNOLOGY
Thanks to Wi-Fi, project management tools, video conferencing, and mobile devices, work can happen whether you’re at the office, at home, or in even in another country. In fact, Fast Company shared a survey that said being chained to an office desk does not equal productivity! Sixty-eight percent of people who described their teams as "very successful" actually have more than half of their team members in different locations.

As technology advances and allows people to use their cell phones for both work and personal use and access their work files remotely, doing work at home (or vice versa) has become more seamless. When employees are responding 24/7 via mobile devices, the regular workday doesn’t really exist anymore. It’s no longer realistic to leave our desks at 5 pm, shut down our computer for the rest of the day, and remain disconnected until the next morning.

More and more workplaces recognize this fact and accommodate “overtime” of being on 24/7 by offering employees flexible schedules. So go ahead and take off early to catch your daughter’s dance recital – you know you’ll be checking emails later, anyway.

EVOLVING COMPANY CULTURE
Modern, competitive companies also work hard to make sure their employees have the flexibility and freedom they need to feel satisfied at their workplace. Because of this effort, more and more companies are implementing new vacation policies, flexible work hours, and even allowing employees to bring their children or their pets to work, or work from wherever.

According to Forbes more companies have employees working from home than ever before. At least 30 million Americans work from home at least once each week, and 54% of Americans are happier working from home than at an office. More companies are accepting of this trend and even encourage it in order to keep their employees engaged.

Also, most modern-day employees don’t think integrating their work and life is a bother. Professionals used to try to keep their personal life separate from the workplace, but employees are realizing that because they spend a large chunk of their time at the office, it can becomes exhausting to keep up two separate personas and two separate lives. Now, we see employees integrating work tasks and life tasks, being themselves and even making friends at work. The lines between work and home continue to blur!  

CHANGING FAMILY STRUCTURE 
One last cause for the work-life integration trend is the changing definition of family. The “traditional family” doesn’t look the same today as it did 50 years ago. With more women in the workforce than ever before, work-life integration helps support working moms, allowing them to find professional success while also taking care of matters at home.

According to a recent study from Fortune, 75 percent of time logs of working women showed something personal during traditional work hours: exercise, school visits, doctor’s appointments, etc. On the flip side, 77 percent also showed that they do work outside the workday norm. Women took calls, answered emails and wrote reports on weekends or after their kids went to bed.

And it’s not just working moms handling the childrearing duties anymore. More and more working dads are sharing parenting duties, so flexibility is important to them, too. With paternal leave growing in the workplace, we’re seeing the effects of growing gender equality and work-life integration.

While these are just a few notable causes of work-life integration, it’s safe to say that that work-life balance is out and work-life integration is in. At TSP, we’re supportive of work-life integration, with a large percentage of our employees working remotely and others juggling parenthood with their “day jobs” as #TSProckstars.

Did we sell you on the whole work-life integration concept? Itching to learn more about how to make it work? Make sure you subscribe to our blog so you catch an upcoming blog post that will talk about how to do just that.

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