Work-life integration: The new way of balancing work and free time


Woman with laptop on the couch – Work-life integration
The most important facts about work-life integration

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.

What is work-life integration?

Work-life integration means that work and private life are no longer separated but linked. The boundaries between job and free time disappear.

This happens, for example, when someone takes another work session at home at the end of the working day or on the weekend, answers a business email in his or her free time, or is available via business mobile while on holiday. But, at the same time, he or she also manages private appointments and tasks during working hours.

Or working hours are so flexible per se that there is enough time for personal to-dos and hobbies:

  • Start later to bring the children to school or have time for breakfast.
  • Take a longer break in the middle of the day to go shopping or do sports.
  • Leave early in the afternoon to enjoy the sun and continue work later in the evening.

When the boundaries between work and private life become even more blurred without any clear transitions, this is called work-life blending. Here, job and leisure time merge completely.

»The art of living consists of reconciling one's nature with one's work.«

Luis de Leon, Spanish poet and author

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.

Man works with tablet on the couch – Work-life integration

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:


  • Flexibility: Through successful work-life integration, employees can organise their jobs more flexibly. They can better adapt their working hours to personal needs. And they can finish tasks and appointments when it's convenient for them.
  • Independence: Since employees can individually organise their work, they automatically take on more responsibility for their working results and their projects. This makes them more independent and committed.
  • Satisfaction: The possibility to work autonomously and better reconcile work and private life makes people more satisfied – in both areas of life. This also increases motivation.
  • Productivity: When employees adjust their work to their own preferences, they work more productively and efficiently. Also, if they flexibly organise their working hours, they can benefit from particularly creative and productive phases in their own biorhythm.
  • Less stress: A good work-life compatibility reduces stress and improves mental well-being. Above all, the chance to spend time with family and friends while still being successful at work helps to create more balance in the long term.


  • Performance pressure: Due to the expectation to be “always on”, employees can experience high pressure. This leads to stress and compunction. It is therefore particularly important to clearly communicate expectation towards the team.
  • Risk of overwork: If work and free time merge seamlessly, there is a risk to overwork. Ambitious employees may find it difficult to take enough breaks and may not be able to really switch off after work.
  • High level of self-organisation: Work-life integration requires a lot of self-organisation and discipline to use working hours effectively and to focus on important tasks. Many find it also difficult to schedule free time and breaks. However, breaks are essential for regeneration.
  • Communication problems: If team members have different working hours and locations, this makes communication and cooperation more difficult. To avoid misunderstandings, employees must make good agreements and coordinate themselves well.

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.
Woman working in a café - Work-life integration

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.

Here are some tips to ensure enough recovery time:

  • Organisation and time management: Schedule free times and breaks consciously and stick to them. To avoid overwork, track your working hours – even if they are only short sessions.
  • Conscious free time: Even in times of constant availability, it is important to integrate some “me-time” in your routines. So: In your free time, switch off your devices or mute them to relax without a bad conscience.
  • Sufficient breaks: Breaks are a must. Only then, you will be able to keep your productivity level high in the long run. Especially at home, many people tend to fill every non-working minute with private tasks. Tidying up the kitchen at lunchtime or quickly doing the laundry during a meeting break may be practical but doesn't let you catch your breath. Instead, take a short walk, make a proper break, or even take a power nap.
  • Switch off properly: Coming to a clear end in the evening is not that easy, especially when working from home. However, it is important to clear your head from time to time and think about something else than your current project or long to-do lists. Meditation and mindfulness exercises can help improve mental health.
  • Take a holiday: Workation is great, but recreational leave is also necessary. That is why employees should consciously create phases when they are unavailable. This way, they can take time for activities that do them good.

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.

Interesting tasks and enough space for own needs

With flexible working hours and home office, all our employees can create the kind of working day they wish.

Related News

Woman working on the beach - remote work abroad

| OVB Holding AG

Remote work abroad: from deckchair to hammock with your laptop

Taking a walk on the beach in the morning before work, having breakfast at the pool bar and then looking for a quiet spot with your laptop. Just following the motto "work where others are on vacation". Remote work abroad is discussed in many companies, but it isn't possible in every profession.

Agile teamwork - New Work at OVB Holding

| OVB Holding AG

New work: how our way of working is changing

We want to work in a more self-determined and efficient way: Most preferably where, when and how we want. That sounds perfect to you - but how does New Work actually work? Many people are stressed out by their jobs and are exposed to high pressure. For this reason it's obvious that something has to change in the world of work.