Your access to communications, both work and personal, is increasingly easy, carried with you, and psychologically demanding.  If you are connected to wifi or broadband (and when aren’t you?), you have the ability to work. And if you have the ability, it can be difficult to turn off.  In fact, anxiety related to email is on the rise.  

Most of us think nothing of checking email from home. A European study by British Summer Fruits found that 44% of Brits claim that they frequently send emails to colleagues and clients between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. What’s more, one in 10 say they would fear for their job if they didn’t respond to emails promptly.

In addition to emotional health concerns, this begs the question:  Where is the balance when our work slips into our home lives?   And also, when is it ok to blend more of our personal life into the work day?   It’s not uncommon to hear of professionals who take a mid-day break to run an errand, work-out or pick up their child from school. But for many, it seems to be more of a one-way street:  work intrudes into life, and life suffers.

Work-Life Integration

Work and life is a synergy — not a balance. – Isa Watson, CEO and Founder of Squad by Envested

Balance implies that we are spending equal amounts of time each day working, and off the clock.  But that expectation may actually contribute to higher levels of stress, as we find the reality devilishly elusive.   

Jacob Morgan, author of The Employee Experience Advantage says, “It is nearly impossible to avoid work and life merging into one, so you might as well make the most of it and align your goals to create the life experience you want.”

Maybe it’s more realistic to replace the idea of Balance with Equity

When we experience equity, we feel that we are able to expend energy where it is most and truly needed. Sometimes that’s the important project at work on a tight deadline.  Sometimes, that’s my child who has the flu.  Sometimes it’s a nice sweaty workout.  The important thing is, the experience is: I am in control.

Flex Work Schedules

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, a flexible work schedule is an alternative to the traditional 9 to 5, 40-hour work week – including work schedules that allow employees to vary their arrival and/or departure times. HR software company Zenefits identifies flexible work arrangements as flexible scheduling of work hours and/or shifts, flexibility for amount of hours worked, ability to work remotely all the time, ability to work remotely at least part of the time or a compressed work week (i.e. work more hours 4 days a week with a three-day weekend).

More and more workplaces are providing employees with flexible work schedules, not only because they understand that employees are most likely working outside of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., but also to encourage employee morale and positive culture. The good news? It’s working.  

  • 68% of people with inflexible schedules report “unreasonable” levels of work stress, while only 20% of respondents with flexible work schedules felt the same way. Furthermore, the study showed that 59 percent of those with inflexible schedules want to leave their jobs, compared to only 22 percent of those with schedule flexibility. – Kenexa High Performance Institute

Making It Work

Self-Reflect on How You Work Best
A flex work schedule allows you to plan your day around what you know works for you. If you know that you often get inspired with great brainstorm ideas after you exercise in the middle of the day, plan your schedule around your workout. Leaving room for creativity makes for productive and thoughtful professionals.
The Muse: Why I Choose to Integrate Work and Life, Not Balance It

Identify Your Priorities
Dr. Stewart Friedman, author of Leading the Life You Want: Skills for Integrating Work and Life, identifies four interdependent domains—work, home, community, and self. He stresses that these areas should not be in competition with one another, but instead in harmony. Your priorities should lend themselves to improved performance at work, at home, in the community, and for the private self (mind, body, and spirit).
Forbes: Life ‘Balance’ Is Really More About Harmony

Plan Ahead
Review the week ahead and block off time based on the week’s activities or priorities. Without planning ahead,you may find that your schedule doesn’t allow for chunks of time for your activities.
Forbes: Achieving Work-Life Integration In This New World Of Work

 

A career coach can help you learn how to better integrate your work and life, decrease stress and avoid burn-out. Check out our executive coaching services and sign up for a free consultation here.