Jabra Blog: Forget the 8-Hour Day. Work/Life Integration is Here to Stay according to Holger Reisinger of Jabra
The days of putting in a 9-to-5 at the office and then heading home and unplugging are over. Work/life balance has been replaced by work/life integration. Here’s how to combine job and family time for less stress and more success.
I shouldn’t have been surprised at what I was seeing, but I was.
While meeting with my assistant, Tina, to review my work schedule for the first months of 2016, we couldn’t help but notice how many meetings were outside what we used to consider “normal” working hours.
The schedule was filled with early morning teleconferences, evening dinner meetings and more than a few Saturday evening flights overseas.
At one point I even quipped, “Do I have any meetings during the workday?” As we laughed, I was struck by how quickly times have changed: Our jobs are no longer the typical 9-to-5 ones that our parents or grandparents worked.
Absent, too, is the notion of “work/life balance” popular a decade or so ago, where walls existed between work life and personal life.
A confluence of factors has made these concepts relics of the past. Business is more competitive, faster-paced and more global, requiring 24/7 availability. Technology makes us more accessible and enables us to work from anywhere. And the millennial generation that is invigorating our workforces is less bound by “traditional” ways of business.
Together, these forces have obliterated the wall that separated work time and family time. Now, the workday never really ends for most of us. We routinely review reports and return texts and emails after dinner. Conversely, we do things during work hours that would have been inconceivable years ago: run a few errands, take personal phone calls and even browse Facebook from the office.
It’s clear that “work/life balance” has been replaced by a new paradigm: “work/life integration.” It’s no longer about when you work, where or how many hours you spend working. It’s about getting your work done, regardless of time and place.
Integrating… Without Shortchanging
How do we meld work and family without giving short shrift to either? Here are some ideas that have worked for me. The list isn’t exhaustive, and I’m sure there are plenty others.
Accept the change. We first need to acknowledge that “work/life integration” is a new way of working, and isn’t going to go away. The goal isn’t to work more hours; it’s to work the same number, while allowing enough flexibility for family and personal pursuits. By balancing the two, we reduce the stress and anxiety over spending too much time on one or the other.
Take responsibility. The autonomy work/life integration provides requires increased personal responsibility. Without a boss monitoring our every move, we must be mindful of our commitment to our employer. Just as we would while in an office, we should strive to get our work done well and on time and respond to the needs of our coworkers in a timely way.
Get organized. Success in integrating work and family requires organizing our schedules so that we’re working during the times we’re most productive. For me, that would be mornings and while I’m on airplanes. By scheduling the bulk of my work then, I take less work home and have the flexibility to tackle a workout or some personal chores during afternoons, when I tend to be less productive.
Set boundaries. There will always be times when our work and personal lives collide, so it’s important to set boundaries. Ultimately, healthy work/life integration means knowing when to say “no.” This makes it acceptable for me to step away from work to, say, attend my son’s musical presentation at school, especially when my coworkers know I’m available to respond to an important email in the evening.
Use technology. We can’t be in two places at the same time, but videoconferencing and other technologies enable us to at least bridge the gap. If it’s not critical that I physically attend a meeting, or if I just can’t be there, I try to participate by video, which increases my feeling of presence.
Be flexible. Above all, work/life integration requires flexibility, both on the part of employees and organizations. No one likes a 9 p.m. conference call. But if the trade-off is a Monday afternoon spent with the kids, it’s one worth making. For their part, organizations need to grant employees the flexibility and autonomy to make work/life integration a success. The notion that “You’re on company time” no longer exists, and shouldn’t.
As my calendar – and likely yours – can attest, work/life integration is the new normal today. By thoughtfully integrating the two, we can take live happier, more fulfilled and more productive lives – both at work and at home.
To learn more about new ways of working, read Jabra Holger Reisinger’s blog by Clicking Here