Living in the digital age automatically implies that one’s personal and professional life are constantly blurring. It means that try as we might, we will never be able to strike a perfect balance between these two worlds. What we can do, however, is to try and integrate both work and life in such a way that it can work for us.
In this day and age, almost nobody takes their work home with them – it follows them via the laptop, tablet, or mobile phone. Most people use these devices outside of work, and it’s through them that we regularly find ourselves answering emails and taking conference calls when we should be spending time with friends and family.
Now, let’s take a look at what are work-life balance and integration, and how they differ from one another.
Work-life balance revolves around the idea of creating somewhat of a border between the two. While you are at work, you give it 100% – you hope to achieve something, and you wish to enjoy doing it. The same thing applies to the ‘life’ part of the equation.
Unfortunately, however, this is easier said than done as there is no clear guide on how to get there. What’s more, working and living are never indeed balanced. Sometimes you’ll be able to achieve and enjoy yourself more at work than at home, and other times it’s the other way around. Given enough time, things will eventually even out.
The whole point behind the work-life balance idea is to achieve and enjoy things in both parts of your life, all the while keeping a clear divide between the two. The logic behind this boundary is that it allows you to focus on each one independently and not be distracted by the other.
As its name would suggest, the work-life integration idea aims to mix work into your life and like it. It takes the opposite approach to the whole work-life balance thing since it’s looking to merge the two in such a way that it offers you more flexibility throughout the day.
This approach, however, goes somewhat against the idea of a strict 9-to-5 working schedule, favoring instead a telecommuting (working from home) lifestyle. In other words, if you can meet your deadlines, attend your meetings (even virtually), and also live your daily life, then everything is okay.
Scheduling is probably the most significant difference between the two. With work-life balance, the schedule is, more or less, preset. You work from 9-to-5 and give it all of your attention, after which you go home and unwind without any interruptions. With work-life integration, you mix and match your schedule as you wish, trying to reap the benefits of both worlds.
The better alternative depends on the individual’s personality, habits, their working schedule, and the kind of life they want to live. It may be challenging to integrate your life into your work and vice-versa under a strict 9-to-5 plan, but it could be a preferred choice for someone with a family, as it can offer more flexibility. Balancing the two, however, may seem like the more straightforward and easy choice, but in today’s digital world, it can be hard to separate the two completely.
While work-life integration has been trending in more recent years, it could be a direct result of more telecommuting jobs that now exist. In the end, it’s up to every one of us how to approach the issue. For more information on healthy life choices, join us at the Women’s Self Care Conference on October 20, 2018. Our guest speakers will provide valuable insight on how to enjoy life with all its ups and downs.