We’re all familiar with the so-called Work-Life Balance. But, this conjures up visions of see-saws that must be perfectly balanced with equal weights on both ends at all times to ensure success. I personally believe this is an unfair statement and a bit misleading. I prefer to embrace the more realistic concept of Work-Life Integration.
What does Work-Life Integration mean and what does it entail?
This preferred Work-Life Integration concept means that you need to find your own unique method for integrating all of the things you do in your life – daily, weekly, monthly – into a 24-hour time span that suits you; your needs and your employer’s expectations. It’s about how you fit everything that’s important to you into your day, and make tactical changes as needed. This likely includes time to wake up, get your day started, get the kids (or perhaps your dog) off to day care/school, commute to/from work, work a full day, plan and eat meals, make allowances for ‘me time’ like going to the gym as I do, have some fun time for family members (spouse, kids, parents) and friends, and, oh yes, even sleep. The key lies in striving for ‘flexibility’.
You will find that your integration recipe will likely change from day-to-day. Maybe your daughter is in a recital on a Thursday evening. Or you wish to take your dog to the vet for his routine shots first thing on Monday, or you have a class during a two-hour span in the middle of each Friday. Flexible integration allows you to meet these obligations, but may mean going back to work after dinner and/or working on a weekend. It’s about recognizing the give and take of life and being flexible enough to change as necessary, as your life and career progress.
What are the challenges to the Work-Life Integration plan?
Being adaptable is critically important. It’s also key to ensure that your manager, or the leadership team, or your clients with whom you work closely at your company can accept and embrace this flexibility concept and recognize that personal and mental well-being is also a component. Everyone will have different needs, requirements and life demands put upon them. But your flexible workplace should embrace the totality of your work and be willing to accept a sometimes non-standard work schedule, as long as your clients, your work and productivity do not suffer. As my own work spans many different time zones, I must live by the world clock and may need to start work quite early for a meeting far across the world. But I know that I have the flexibility at other appropriate times.
It's also important to ensure that within your Work-Life Integration workplace culture, your co-workers understand the need for flexibility standards and do not resent your leaving the office at 3pm or make unfair assumptions about an absence, and that your clients appreciate your flexible integration scheduling. You may need to work within the confines of your clients’ needs or plan targeted collaboration time with co-workers.
It's also important to understand that for some employees, not having a pre-set, traditional, end-to-end workday is chaotic. All types of individuals should be considered so that a measured balance can be determined to accommodate most, if not all. Being tolerant of the different Work-Life Integration scenarios across and within your company is vital.
What steps should I take to find my unique and personal Work-Life Integration?
It’s important for each individual to fully and completely understand their job, its parameters and the expectations that their employer and clients have. You have to be comfortable with the potential for unstructured days that may seem a little bit…‘messy’. Learn what your organization requires, will tolerate and expects.
Then, map out your prioritizations -- figure out what is the most important to you (beyond the obvious food/shelter/clothing) and what’s less important. If childcare is part of your daily routine, consider partnering with another parent for emergency coverage. If going to the gym is a high priority, find an early morning class you can attend, or look for a new and different exercise class that better suits your schedule.
Just remember that by working at the job you have, you’ve pledged to do your best, and make your work a priority within the broader realm of your life. As you plan, adjust and tactically reconfigure your Work-Life Integration, remember to enjoy the excitement of each and every day.
At Synechron, we believe in the power of digital to transform businesses for the better. Our global consulting firm combines creativity and innovative technology to deliver industry-leading digital solutions. Synechron’s progressive technologies and optimization strategies span end-to-end Artificial Intelligence, Consulting, Digital, Cloud & DevOps, Data, and Software Engineering, servicing an array of noteworthy financial services and technology firms. Through research and development initiatives in our FinLabs we develop solutions for modernization, from Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain to Data Science models, Digital Underwriting, mobile-first applications and more. Over the last 20+ years, our company has been honored with multiple employer awards, recognizing our commitment to our talented teams. With top clients to boast about, Synechron has a global workforce of 14,500+, and has 48 offices in 19 countries within key global markets. For more information on the company, please visit our website.