Companies nowadays prioritize employee satisfaction and make strategies and run programs that can help the employee well-being without hampering their productivity. This is why we see them practicing work-life balance programs or work-life integration practices. Post the Covid-19 crisis, the employees' professional and personal lives have blurred to a great extent. They result in the implementation of new work from home policy or providing employees the flexibility to choose work hours.
Let's face the reality of today's work-life. It is demanding and can get overwhelming at times. Professional responsibilities and personal commitments do not make an amicable relationship. Yet, we cannot separate our professional life from personal life. No matter how much you try to balance between the two, you would have days where it is difficult to work productively. So what do you do then? You merge them both in such a way that none gets affected. And this is what work-life integration is all about.
Technology has merged our work and home life, and you cannot run away from it.
You are more likely to get an email notification to join a meeting at night or connect to a prospect from different time zones. It is, therefore, vital that you learn to implement work-life integration to your benefit.
Let's understand work-life integration in brief.
What Is Work-life Integration?
According to UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business, work-life integration is "an approach that creates more synergies between all areas that define 'life': work, home/family, community, personal well-being, and health."
It is integrating all aspects of life and brings synergy among them. As we said earlier, workplaces today understand the importance of boosting employee morale and job satisfaction by implementing strategies that can benefit both parties. Does it sound similar to work-life balance? If yes, then let us clarify that it is not. Work-life balance is balancing professional and personal life by implementing definitive strategies. For example, in a work-life balance, employees may shut their work duties completely when they are on vacation. Whereas in work-life integration, one would take a work call or join the urgent business meeting remotely.
The concept of work-life integration is not very old. The idea is to bring harmony to one's work-life by implementing tactics to help one achieve that.
How To Strategize For Work-life Integration
1. Choose Your Productive Hours
We all have our productive hours where we are more charged up to finish a task. For some, it could be early morning, and for others, it may be late evening. The idea is to properly use the time to understand the different aspects of life in synergy. It could be anything from your health priorities to family commitments. Technology has given us this perk to work from anywhere and stay connected virtually. Therefore, the better we make the proper use, the more satisfactory work-life we would experience.
2. Create A Routine
Create a routine that works for you. Equally, distribute your tasks so that you do not create confusion for yourself. If you do not have an organized approach to work-life integration, you may end up having more problems than harmony. Also, keep a time frame to finish a particular task and be equally involved while you are at it. This will clear your head and help in not building unnecessary stress. Worrying about an unfinished job while picking up your kid from school is no good work-life integration.
3. Don't Forget To Unplug
We all have limited time and energy in a day. We, therefore, must charge ourselves up from time to time. The best way to do that is to unplug yourself from any duty for a while and relax. Even a tiny nap or taking your dog for a walk, or meditating could be some ways to unplug. When you unplug, you relax your body and mind. You give yourself the time to build up the lost energy.
There is no one size fits all approach when it comes to work-life integration. According to the book, Leading the Life You Want: Skills For Integrating Work And Life, one must create an attention chart for the four aspects of life (work, home community, self) and set direct goals for each of them.
It comes from the sense of awareness and how much time you want to dedicate to better work-life integration. Give priority to each aspect, setting one-day goals for each of them. The choice of goals and time allotment to each vary from person to person based on their needs.
5. Understand Productivity
Productivity is not directly proportional to the time invested in completing a task. It is more about channeling your focus and being present in the moment while you are doing something. You might achieve good productivity in a few hours, and others might achieve it in the whole day. It means you do not have to hustle the entire day. You can take your breaks and maintain a balance in the other aspects of your life without much worry. It is essential to keep a sharp focus and be more productive at a given task.
How Organizations Can Help Employees Navigate Through Work-life Integration
It is crucial for the organization to understand the employees' needs and to support them. Only professional achievements cannot bring harmony to an employee's life; it comes from creating synergy among all the other aspects of life. Few things that employers can do to help them navigate through it are:
- Promoting wellness programs for employees.
- Rewarding and recognizing their efforts to boost employee morale.
- To create a flexible work environment
- To be more inclusive as a culture.
- To give and take feedback to improve organizational health.
Over To You!
One needs self-discipline and proper training/experience to make any new strategy work. And the same goes for work-life integration or even the quality of work-life balance. Also, we understand that the pros and cons of any strategy along the way. Therefore, it is crucial to keep a learning spirit and make the best of any plan to improve our work-life.