Is Balance Possible? Consider Work/Life Integration
Some experts believe the perfect work/life balance is not a balancing act at all. Instead of distinguishing work and life as separate entities, we should embrace work and life holistically. Companies can support this through innovative policies to better blend the two worlds. Consider work/life integration over work/life balance.
A Holistic Work/Life Mindset
In his TED Talk titled “The Fallacy of the Work/Life Balance,” Studio503 President Michael Walters argues that work does not exist separately from life. Seeking balance is a fallacy. For example, if a person close to you passes away, this affects work and vice versa. Stress at home affects work. We spend energy trying to separate our work and life worlds, but they are interconnected. The average person quickly blames work for a lack of balance, but seeking balance is the principal fallacy. “When you shift your view to a holistic sense, you get four transformative results,” Walter says. “You get grace, awareness, momentum, and empowerment.” Positive momentum should be the goal over balance because it is attainable and brings purpose, he argues. Seeking the perfect balance is impossible.
Flexible Company Policies Promote Integration
Many companies are discovering innovative ways to support work/life integration through flexible policies. For example, some managers place more value on work completion and performance over maintaining stringent work hours. “Too much emphasis is put on working hours rather than outcomes,” says Tony Ferreria of LinkedIn. “The 4-day work week may work for some while others will still work on the 5th day. Other employees are better suited for working hard until they hit a limit then finishing the day at home. Sometimes leaving the office to finish up work at home is the best way to get great quality all day. Or letting them run to the gym then return with a fresh mindset is key to sustainable impact.” If the outcome is the measure of performance, this creates room for flexibility.
Ferreria explains that the 9 to 5 workday is outdated thanks to modern technology. Employees embrace post-pandemic levels of flexibility. Some companies offer flexible start times between 7 and 10 am as long as the total hours or total work is completed. Remote workdays (including working from anywhere), generous PTO, and even policies such as one Friday off a month can foster work/life integration.
Flexible policies ultimately result in increased productivity. “Today work-life balance focuses on the two worlds co-existing together,” says Rachel Dresdale of Forbes. “For instance, it’s possible to go to your child’s sports meeting rather than staying in the office, because you can check e-mails between innings or finally take that dream vacation you’ve been dying for while conferencing into the daily meeting.”
Company Culture is Key to Integration
Work/ life integration is only possible when the company culture is supportive. Use these key questions:
- Is your company focused on the forward momentum of each whole person?
- Is there a focus on how much time someone is at the office or whether he/she is getting work accomplished?
- Do employees feel comfortable at work, or do they count the hours till they can go back to their “real lives”?
If your company culture does not support work/life integration, it may be time to reevaluate your career and discuss your options with the recruiters at Artemis Consultants. Consider this quote by Nigel Marsh in “How to Make Work-life Balance Work.’: “There are thousands and thousands of people out there living lives of screaming desperation where they work long, hard hours at jobs they hate to enable them to buy things they don’t need to impress people they don’t like. If you don’t design your life, someone else will design it for you and you may just not like their idea of balance.”
–Written exclusively for Artemis Consultants by Content Writer Mellody Melville