A few years ago, all the talk among budding professionals was to find a job which provided them with a better ‘Work-Life Balance‘. In short, most people were looking for a job that not only gave them good career prospects but also provided them enough time to spend with their family and friends doing activities they enjoyed outside of work. This was very much achievable until a few years ago, however, with time, businesses have become more global, more connected and more competitive and as a result demand more time and commitment from their employees which has led to the concept of ‘Work-Life Integration‘ i.e. attaining a life-style where professionals blend their work with their personal life to make them both work. In the last year, the COVID-19 pandemic has made remote working the ‘new normal’ resulting in the concept of ‘Work-Life Integration’ becoming even more important than it has ever been.
What is work-life integration?
Over the last year, the boundaries between professional and personal life have become blurred mainly due to the fact that most professionals have been working from home due to the pandemic. As remote working became more common over the last year, most companies started expecting their employees to keep an eye on their phones and emails even when office hours finished. Businesses don’t sleep in this era of globalisation and, as a result, the people associated with them are also expected to give up more time to get work done by making better use of tools and technology specially when having the flexibility of working from homes. Technology today means that we can be online almost all of the time whether through our phone or computers.
The concept of work-life integration is designed to give employees some control over their time and how they organize their activities to benefit both their work and personal life. When working from home, the best example of work-life integration is that you can get some household chores done during office hours and then work till later in the evening to cover that time. In addition, you can use your phone to catch-up on emails and work messages while taking care of personal matters.
Why are work-life integration measures necessary?
At a time where work and life have become completely merged, professionals need to understand how they can integrate the professional and personal sides of their lives such that they do not burnout. This is specially important for parents of young children or students who are working along with their studies.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of people are now starting to feel the impact of managing their work, studies, parenting and home-schooling non-stop for the last year. This is resulting in mental health issues such as stress, anxiety and burnout. Therefore, it is important that professionals manage their time in a more conscious and smart manner.
Tips for work-life integration
- When working flexible hours to accommodate personal activities, make sure your managers and co-workers are aware of the hours that you are available.
- Communication is the key to successful work-life integration, specially when working remotely, so make sure your team is aware of your circumstances.
- When stepping away to take care of a personal matter, update your status as ‘Away’ on the office network or set an out-of-office message so people are aware.
- Schedule calls at a time when it does not disrupt your office work or family/personal time.
- Update your calendar for time-slots when you are not available so people do not book in calls or meetings.
- Avoid too many video calls in one day. Zoom fatigue is real!
- Try doing voice calls when going for a walk/exercising or when doing the school-run.
- Set aside a time during the day to reply to emails rather than trying to tackle them all as they arrive.
- Overall, make sure to manage expectations and learn to say ‘No’ when needed!
The above are only a few examples of work-life integration as companies and employees constantly find new and better ways to use technology and be more productive in this new world of remote working. One thing is for sure though, work-life integration is a concept that is here to stay as more companies embrace remote working and the need for employees to manage their work and personal priorities in a way that is beneficial for both businesses and the employees themselves.
This article was originally published in The Accountant’s Diary on March 11, 2021.