Work-life integration: The new way of balancing work and free time
reading time: ca. 6 minutes
- The classic work-life balance is replaced by work-life integration where private and professional life are combined.
- This enables particularly flexible working, but also the chance to gain time for private matters and interests.
- Especially young people and employees with families attach great importance to a good compatibility of the different life spheres. For this, flexible working time models and mobile working are the basis.
- Employees who want to follow the new trend must pay attention to good time management. Enough time for regeneration and a feasible workload are particularly important.
Our working world is becoming more and more digital and mobile. New concepts like work-life integration are replacing the traditional work-life balance. After all, the strict separation of work and private life is difficult these days. Work-life integration goes beyond the traditional balance and creates a symbiosis between work and leisure.
Being successful at work and still having enough time for family, friends, and personal interests: Work-life integration is supposed to make it possible. The option to work from anywhere and at any time makes it increasingly difficult to clearly separate work and private life. The classic work-life balance has had its day.
Private phone calls in the office? Finishing a project from home in the evening? No problem with the right work-life integration. Those who get it right and pay attention to good time management can benefit from several advantages.
Work-life balance vs. integration
Work-life balance considers work and private life as opposites that need to be balanced and equalised. The day must be optimally divided between the two areas in order to reconcile them.
For a long time, work-life balance was one of the most important factors regarding job satisfaction and company benefits.
However, with work-life integration, work and private life are no longer separated. They enrich each other and are intertwined.
The antithesis to this is work-life separation. Here, the aim is to strictly separate work and leisure. The two areas should not mix but be clearly divided from each other.
How useful is work-life integration?
Companies with fixed working hours and mandatory presence in the office are becoming rarer. This is one reason why the classic separation of job and free time with the aim of achieving a work-life balance has become outdated.
Instead, the working world is becoming increasingly flexible, so the mixing of the two areas is hardly avoidable. According to recent Eurofound studies (European Working Conditions Survey), about one third of European employees have already been working regularly in their free time.
Instead of setting priorities to meet the needs of either work or private life, the integration of both areas can lead to more serenity.
But: This does not have to suit everyone. Especially Generation Z attaches great importance to the separation of the two areas and, thus, to clearly defined free times. People who find it difficult to switch off after work may also struggle.
In any case, it makes sense to have a high degree of flexibility and individuality. Because this way, each employee can individually decide whether work-life integration or work-life separation fits him or her better.
Work-life integration has both advantages and disadvantages:
Work-life integration: How it works
How can the positive sides of work-life integration be used? By allowing workers to organise themselves and take on a lot of responsibility. Companies can actively support this and thus create a positive working environment.
There are several ways to promote an optimal work-life integration:
- Mobile working: Different workplaces and home office make the working day more flexible. It also eliminates commuting times.
- Flexible working hours: Through flexible working models, employees can better adapt their work to personal schedules and individual needs. Part-time work also improves the compatibility of work with private and family life.
- Coaching: Skills such as time management and autonomy can be strengthened through appropriate training and workshops.
- Healthy work culture: Companies can create a pleasant and healthy work culture with special offers. These include, for example, health promotion, company sports, and group events such as summer or after-work parties.
- Family compatibility: Many employees find it particularly important to combine their career with their family life. Flexible working hours, part-time work, home office, or job sharing allow mothers and fathers to have active professional lives without neglecting their families.
5 tips for proper regeneration and less stress
Real work-life integration does not only mean to use working time efficiently, but also to create enough space for recreation and free time.
This is the only way the working model can be effective in the long term and, at the same time, lead to more satisfaction, health, and performance.
The future of work-life integration
The future of work-life integration promises an exciting development. Currently, the model is increasingly becoming the standard of work, driven by advancing digitalisation and new-work concepts, especially remote working.
Nevertheless, working life is constantly changing and may look very different again in the future. In particular, younger generations such as Gen Z are demanding a stricter separation of job and private life.
Regardless of this, the modern working world will still be dominated by personal responsibility, self-determination, flexibility, and trust.
It makes sense to create flexible and individual working models that let everyone arrange work to fit life.
In this context, the focus is increasingly shifting away from the hours worked and towards the concrete performance, results, and contribution that someone makes to the company.
Ultimately, the most important thing is that every employee can organise everyday life in such a way that work is not a necessary evil but a welcome part of life.