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Moving from work-life balance, towards work-life integration

Digitalisation has changed many things in the world of work: From artificial intelligence and full automation to working from home. This not only means change for companies, but also for employees.

Digitalization has changed many things in the world of work: From artificial intelligence and full automation to the home office. This not only means change for companies, but also for employees.

In the digital age, employees can answer business emails from the supermarket and hold meetings with colleagues on the other side of the world. Salary.com found in a study that 64% of employees visit non-work related websites every day during working hours. The figure makes it clear that private and work life are increasingly overlapping and the boundaries are becoming more blurred.

The term work-life balance now seems inappropriate, as it is no longer about creating an optimal balance between professional and private life. Instead, the aim is to create a perfect symbiosis between the two areas of life, as they can no longer be clearly separated anyway. The aim is to create a balance through integration. This is where the term "work-life integration" comes to the fore. This should allow us to always be up to date in every situation, both privately and professionally, without neglecting either of these two areas.

Table of Content

  1. Advantages of work-life integration

  2. Disadvantages of work-life integration

  3. Measures that employers can take for work-life integration

  4. Work-life integration - the path to freedom or to becoming a workaholic?

Advantages of work-life integration

Previously, mixing work and private life often caused remorse. Whether it's quickly opening an email inbox or making a business call while on vacation, answering WhatsApp messages or browsing social media while at work. Until now, there has been little acceptance of this.

Private life vs. work

But this is set to change with successful work-life integration. After all, there are no fixed boundaries here and the integration should enable a stress-free (working) life, as there is an increased understanding of the blending of private and working life and employees are given the opportunity to deal with it in a relaxed, carefree and transparent manner.

Flexibilization of working hours

Another advantage is the elimination of the precise division between work and private time. What previously had to be carefully thought through and weighed up to create the perfect work-life balance can now be experienced in a relaxed and natural way with work-life integration. Time can be used much more productively. Whether it's opening your laptop on the train to use the journey time to work or answering emails in the queue at the supermarket - work-life integration makes much more effective use of time.

A major positive aspect should be the minimization of stress and increase in motivation, which should enable work-life integration for many employees. This is achieved through a working environment and climate in which employees feel comfortable and in which they enjoy spending time. Here, the boundaries between private and working life, colleagues and friends, as well as work and leisure activities are blurred. Time that is used effectively should make it possible to enjoy work more, which should also have a positive effect on the quality of performance.

Disadvantages of work-life integration

Of course, work-life integration does not only have advantages, but also some downsides and many opponents.

A survey by Talents & Trends revealed that almost 70% of the 600 professionals surveyed stated that they felt that their private life would suffer more and work would take center stage. 40% said that they regularly worked overtime as a result of work-life integration. 64% of survey participants stated that a strict separation of work and leisure was the only way to avoid neglecting either area.

By mixing the two areas, it can quickly happen that complete relaxation from working life is never achieved, as employees never take a complete break because they can leave the workplace physically, but not digitally and mentally. This can lead to stress and the neglect of private life, as this is constantly interrupted by professional activities.

The blurring of boundaries between work and leisure may also shift priorities. For example, instead of preparing for an important meeting, the child's birthday party is planned and work emails are answered during the birthday party. Mixing up the two areas can quickly lead to the wrong priorities being set.

It is also much more difficult to keep track of the overtime worked. Answering emails in the cab, making business calls while cooking or completing one or two tasks before going to bed - it is usually unclear how much time has been invested.

Measures that employers can take for work-life integration

Of course, the concept of "work-life integration" cannot be realized in every company. There must be work areas that are not restricted by spatial criteria. For example, work-life integration is not possible for a worker in the logistics sector, as the strict demarcation between work and leisure time is essential here. Nevertheless, there are also many areas of work where work-life integration is perfectly conceivable for employees. We will show you what measures companies can take to take a step towards work-life integration.

The important thing here is to always remain open and strive for transparent communication. The wishes and needs of all those involved in facilitating work-life integration should be taken into account and the extent to which they can be met should be carefully considered.

One important measure that many companies are already implementing as far as possible is the option of working from home. As the name suggests, it is the work-life integration method par excellence. It enables employees to work from anywhere. Whether they have to stay at home because their child is ill, want to work from vacation or simply need to relax and complete their tasks from the couch. Working from home is a wonderful way of integrating private and professional life.

Flexible working hours are another sensible step. If you have less to do one day, it's okay to leave a few hours earlier instead of sitting bored at your desk - but if the deadline is getting closer and closer, you can also add time. The motto here is: quality of work instead of quantity of working hours.

Work-life integration measures can also be taken at the workplace itself. For example, many companies have their own in-house childcare facilities. This allows parents to be close to their children and still be able to work. Many companies also focus on health-promoting measures to ensure that employees feel relaxed and well at work. This can range from yoga and meditation to massages. Here, employees are relieved of stress and worries during working hours and can recharge their energy reserves. This is also possible in retreats within some companies, for example in the form of "chill areas" or even bedrooms.

Work-life integration - the path to freedom or to becoming a workaholic?

As is so often the case, the truth may lie in the middle. Many employees have already internalized this work concept and have benefited from the advantages as well as experiencing the disadvantages.

In conclusion, it can be said that the success rate of this concept varies from person to person. Despite work-life integration, you have to be able to set priorities and set yourself small limits that help you not to neglect either your private or working life, even in this concept that is actually "limitless". One of the most motivating factors for employees is the freedom of self-determination. Companies should therefore not decide for their employees and assume work-life integration, but let them test and decide for themselves which way of working suits them best.

What do you think of the concept of work-life integration?

With our software solution for workforce scheduling, shyftplan, we promote the self-determination of employees by involving them in many planning processes from the outset. This allows us to exploit previously unimagined potential: employee intelligence. The other core functions of our software include duty scheduling, time recording, absence planning and time management.