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The evolution from “Work-Life balance” to “Work-Life Integration”

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Mclaren Consultancy

Fri Aug 09 2019 06:00:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)

The concept of work-life integration has become more popular in recent years. But what, exactly, does it mean?

“Work-life balance” is no longer applicable in the 21st century?

When it comes to talking about people’s career aspiration, many people rank “Work-life balance” as their number one career aspiration. As time goes by, many people believe that “work-life balance” is not applicable anymore.


The ambiguity of the definition – “Work-life balance”

In this ever-changing era, the advancement of digital technologies determines how people work and when people work. The workday has been changing from 9 to 5 to 24/7, and the working place has been moved from normal office to home office. Quoted from Janice R. Bellace, a professor from Wharton School of Business, “When people use smartphones to work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, how do you define whether people are "working" or "not working"?”


“According to a study, 44 percent of workers in the Netherlands believe they should have the freedom to define their work schedule. Over 50 percent of employees believe a traditional 9-5 work routine is outmoded.”


The new norm: “Work-Life Integration”

In mathematics mindset, the formula of work-life balance presets that “Work” & “Life” is contradictory and creates a sense of competition between the two elements.  Yet, due to the convenience of instant messaging technology, it is hard to distinguish what is real “off work”. In that regard, the only way to achieve the so-called “work-life balance”, is to “let Work = Life”, which it turns out to become “work-life integration”. “Work-life integration” refers to integrating your social life into your workday. Entrepreneurs prefer flexible working schedule or innovative and high-tech companies generally offer their employees the option to work in flexible hours.


In modern society, the boundary between “work and off work” is getting vaguer and the word balance lost its meaning. Hence, the discussion on “work & life balance” should be twisted a little bit to “How to prioritize and integrate both of these parts of our identity.”

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