Work / life integration

14th February 2013

There is a theme in the conversations I have been having since the new year.

The theme is about, what I call, work / life integration. This stems from the move away from 9-5pm working, as a result of globalisation. People in global roles need to take calls when it fits with overseas colleagues, which often means working outside ‘office hours’. The downside of this can be feeling like you are working 24hrs a day!

If I look at my working patterns in the last couple of years. I have moved away from trying to defend my ‘personal / family’ time from ‘work’ time and looked at how I can integrate work, personal and family time. It takes a bit of juggling but I think I am getting there. Yes, I take calls early in the morning with Asia, and late at night with the USA, but not every day and I can go to the gym or get my hair cut in the middle of the  day.  So, it is the FLEXIBILITY that allows me to INTEGRATE the different elements of my life.

The dilemma I see in many businesses is in giving employees the flexibility that they expect the employees to give back. There seem to be a lot of inconsistencies in how this is handled and it usually boils down to someone’s line manager. The danger is that working 24hrs a day takes its toll on people, and inevitably results in burn out and attrition.

So, next time you are in a meeting where the subject of work/ /life balance crops up, try reframing the question around work/life integration.