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The theory of employers allowing a good “work life balance” has been a great triumph for employee satisfaction; and is one for which we can thank the professional women who were entering the workplace in large numbers in the 1960’s.

However, the term “balance” relies on the idea that “work” and “life” are diametrically opposed, with each having its own separate weight and value – which leads me to ask, why would anyone want to choose doing work over having a life?

Rather, professional and personal life INTEGRATION is the wave of the future.  Technological advances, along with the Millennial generation, taking over the workplace means professional work gets done whenever and wherever.  This change should also lead employees to be able to live their personal life whenever and wherever, not only outside of the hours of 8 to 5 during the week and on the weekends.
Integration looks like:

  • Checking work email first thing in the morning on a smartphone before even getting out of bed
  • Online shopping and buying a present for a spouse at 2pm in a cubicle at the office (or checking Facebook, or personal email) – without negative consequence or fear of reprisal because it may actually increase productivity
  • Having access to work systems and programs on a personal computer and spending time finishing a project in the evening, after coming home and having dinner with one’s family
  • Implementing an unlimited vacation policy
  • Leaving at 3pm on a workday to go to the doctor or a yoga class or a parent teacher conference or the grocery store without having to use PTO or flex time
  • Checking work email last thing before going to sleep
  • Implementing a cultural shift to a “Results Only Work Environment” – I’m a huge proponent of focusing on results rather than hours clocked or face-time at the office!

What I worry about with the expansion of technology and employees working at all hours of the day and night is that organizations will “forget” to allow workers to use business-operating hours for personal tasks.  If employees are working outside of the 8 to 5 time frame, the traditional workday should be up for grabs for personal tasks too.

With professional and personal life integration becoming the new “work-life balance” – businesses can put an onus on results (while likely having a higher employee retention rate) and employees can fulfill their personal needs and goals in a more achievable, sustainable manner.

Catherine Schmidt
Catherine Schmidt
Catherine Schmidt is Purple Ink’s Director of Client Services and is based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Catherine has a special interest in career coaching and recruiting and finds joy when she can connect the right person to the right opportunity.

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