When I first started my career over a decade ago, all the talk among budding professionals was to find a job which provided them with a better ‘Work-Life Balance‘. In short, most people were looking for a job that gave them good career prospects yet gave them enough time to spend with their family and friends doing activities they enjoyed outside of work. This was very much achievable until a few years ago, however, with time, businesses have become more global, more connected and more competitive and as a result demand more time and commitment from their employees. This has led to a new concept called ‘Work-Life Integration‘ i.e. attaining a life-style where professionals blend their work with their personal life to make them both work.
Over the last few years, the boundaries between professional and personal life have become blurred mainly due to the evolution of technology. With smart phones and remote working being a commonality these days, most companies expect their employees to keep an eye on their phones and emails even when office hours have finished. Businesses don’t sleep in this era of globalisation and, as a result, the people associated with them are also expected to give up more time to get work done by making better use of tools and technology that enable them to merge work activities with other aspects of their lives.
Technology today means that we can be online almost all of the time whether through our phone or computers. As a result, there are more people working remotely than ever before giving them more flexibility to schedule work commitments around or along with personal commitments. For example, you can be at a social event but still respond to important work emails from your phone to ensure an important deadline is on track or, alternatively, you can plan your next social event during office hours by coordinating with your friends over social media.
The concept of work-life integration is designed to give employees some control over their time and how they organise their activities to benefit both their work and personal life and below are some examples of work-life integration which can assist with this aim:
- Working from home is probably the best example of work-life integration whereby you can work remotely from the comfort of your home and also get some personal stuff done in the process.
- You can use apps on your phone to catch-up on emails while on the go whether commuting to or from work or even when you are at a social event.
- You can schedule business calls when commuting to or from work to avoid disrupting office hours or family time.
- Communicating with your friends or family on any urgent matters using social media and messaging apps during office hours.
- Attending pre-arranged conference calls or checking emails on pre-agreed dates when on vacation to ensure any important deadlines are not missed.
The above are only a few examples of work-life integration as modern companies and employees constantly find new and better ways to use technology to make life better and more productive. One thing is for sure though, work-life integration is a concept that is here to stay as more companies embrace the need for employees to manage their work and personal priorities in a way that is beneficial for both businesses and the employees themselves.
The author is an accounting professional with more than 12 years experience of working with various organisations in auditing and consultancy roles.