The days of a clear separation between work and home are a thing of the past, and we’re still trying to figure out how to integrate life and work in a healthy way. In a recent Advise America survey, 87 percent of respondents felt they overwork — but at the same time, more than a third also said they don’t feel overloaded by work. Work-life integration is different than simply trying to find balance and separation, however. Let’s take a look.
Integration vs. Separation
Work-life balance used to be about a sharp delineation between “work hours” and “time off,” in which professionals sat at the office for eight straight hours and then went home and shut down. Integration is about flexibility and allowing yourself to blur those lines not just at home but at work as well. Just as you must learn to not feel guilty taking a work call while on vacation, you must learn to allow yourself to take a personal call while in the office. Some organizations may not be on board with this, but they should be; the trend is increasing.
Making Work Feel Like Home and Vice Versa
Some of the ways this line blurs can be surprising. Many creatives don’t think twice about sketching up a new idea at home with a drink on the table, but how many would allow themselves to have a cocktail at work? Most corporate offices wouldn’t think of it, but most creatives know that a drink can lubricate the creative process — and the results are often sobering. Huffington Post reported on a study at the University of Chicago found that participants with a blood alcohol level of .08 BAC performed better on creative tasks than their sober counterparts, and that the creative peak was at about .75 BAC. As the DISH Insider’s Guide reports, it may be time to bring back the Don Draper-esque work cocktail after all.
Finding ways to make work feel like home and home feel like work are key to a happy and successful work-life integration. Many companies bring in video games and other entertainment to help blur the line between work and play, and the image of the tech company that looks like an adult playground is one firmly entrenched in our culture for a reason: It works.
For many, the key to integration has been leaving the office all together and working remotely. Esna, a provider of embedded real-time communication and collaboration solutions, reports that 20 percent of the 4.6 billion people that make up the global workforce telecommute. That’s 920 million people who have left the traditional office behind and integrated their work and home lives.
Chances are, if you’ve ever been to any coffee shop ever, you’ve been in someone’s office. Creative and professionals often do their best work when inspiration strikes, and getting out of the “be here work here” mentality frees them to be more productive as well as live their own lives. Flexible employers recognize that employees working from home not only saves money for the organization, it produces a sense of fulfillment for staff that is hard to match. If you are struggling to find a integration between work and home, consider approaching your employer about working remotely, even if it is just for a fraction of your work week. Being able to wake up, have coffee in your own living room and work in a space that is comfortable and private can make a world of a difference.