Work-Life…yes what then? – The fine line between work-life balance and work-life integration

Whereas in the past it was just a matter of making a living through work, today more and more people expect significantly more from their work. Fulfilling it should be, have a meaning and be demanding, but not overwhelming. Added comes that everyone’s life has changed a lot in the last decades. In the past, one(s) went to work, came home, wentmaybe to the soccer club or to the pub and then it started all over again. Nowadays, however, the lives of most people are much more flexible. This is made possible, among other things, by the increasingly widespread New Work thinking among companies. But despite all the possibilities, it is still a major challenge for many to use their time as efficiently as possible, both privately and professionally, without overworking themselves. Two models that have stood out in recent years in addressing this problem are the ideas of work-life balance and work-life integration.


What is Work-Life-Balance?

Work-Life Balance is finding a balance between private and professional life on the part of both the employer and the employee. of the employees. Work and private life are strictly separated from each other.


What is Work-Life Integration?

Work-life integration, in contrast to work-life balance, means that work life and private life are combined in an integrative way and are not two separate areas.


What is the idea behind the term work-life balance?

The idea behind the Work-Life-Balance model is that work and professional are not mixed. On the one hand, this should make work more productive, since, for example, no private mails are checked during work. On the other hand, however, the private life protected, in which the work with leavingthe office is left behind. You are then no longer available for professional matters. Among other things, this is to avoid working unnoticed overtime at home and overworking oneself. Instead, the employee should take sufficient rest periods and thus productively resume work the next day.


Where are the problems with the term work-life balance?

The problem with work-life balance is that it is very difficult to implement in reality. It often happens that work doesn’t necessarily come up when you’re actually sitting in the office. So it happens quite often that you have done your part of the work and for the next steps you haveto wait for the ok from the colleague. But since working hours dictate that you have to be in the office until 5 p.m., it’s usually just do the time. As a result, the employee loses time that could be used productively elsewhere. Likewise, unavoidable private appointments, such as doctor’s or craftsman’s appointments, are often difficult to implement during the day. Those who have to do this during working hours usually have to take half a day or even a whole day off work. take, rather than simply shifting the missing hours to early morning or late work. Moreover, very few people can leave work behind from one moment to the next. Unsolved problems, a tricky task, the answer to an important mail… all this can keep you busy – at least in your mind – even after work, so that it’s impossible to switch off anyway. Added comes that not everyone has the same biorhythm. While some prefer to work in the morning, others prefer to work during the day. Again others prefer to work in the evening or even late at night. Especially in creative processes this can have a significant impact on an employee’s performance.

what is the idea behind the term Work-Life Integration?

These are precisely the problems that work-life-integration an. The model says goodbye to the idea that you really have to strictly separate work and private life. Inpractice, this is anyway hardly feasible. Instead the idea behind making work and thus also private life so flexible,isthat one can use both as effectively as possible. This makes it easy to attend private appointments or also times the sun can be enjoyed. thiscan be done without having to feel guilty about taking a vacation or losing work time. The pure working time is thus even used more efficiently, because you are not somewhere else in your thoughts and doesn’t just sit around in the office because there’s nothing to do. This is not intended to increase stress levels, but rather to be lowered. Just the so-called Millennials comes the Work-life integration approach. They are increasingly calling for new ways of working instead of a 9 to 5 job. Flexibility is just as important to them as a sense of purpose behind their work and this demand is fulfilled by Work-Life-Integration.


What are the problems with the term Work-Life-Integration?

The concept of work-life balance also presents some problems. On the one hand, it can quickly happen that bosses consciously or unconsciously take advantage of the situation. For example, some bosses demand more from their employees than they can afford and still submit projects in the evening, for example, with a deadline until the next morning. Second, work-life integration is not for everyone. something While some have problems with self-organization and self-motivation, others have exactly the opposite problem. They are too motivated and committed and thus work significantly too much. Many have the mindset that yes, they can just do it quickly. Others feel they haven’t done enough work for the day. In addition, the model offers Work-life integration does not apply to every profession. Furthermore, the Occupational Health and Safety Act and thus the observance of sufficient rest breaks between working hours must be observed.


What it takes, for Work-Life-Integration work?

Work-life integration can only work if both employer and employee want it or are willing to engage in it. For example, the employer cannot require its employee to be available at all times. The other way around an employee cannot simply arrange his working hours as it is best for him. best for him fits without discussing it with his boss. Therefore it is important, that fixed rules are defined beforehand and corresponding tools are set up. It must be clear which meetings the employee has to attend, deadlines must be clearly communicated, and work processes must be planned in such a way that, on the one hand, all files can be accessed online and, on the other hand, work at home in the evening does not fail because colleagues have to be involved but are no longer available or are struggling with processes due to their own unavailability.


Where are the benefits for employees?

The advantages for Employees are as numerous as they are diverse. For example, advantages arethat

  • the time for work as well as private is more effectively used.
  • the stresslevel is reduced
  • Guilt, for example by checking private emails during work, can be reduced
  • the joy of working increases
  • not always 40 hours a week of work are necessary to achieve the goals.
  • motivation increases in the long term
  • the willingness to perform increases


Where are the benefits for employers?

The benefits for the employer are closely linked to those for the employees. A satisfied and efficient employee is is much more valuable to a company than someone who sits in the office for 40 hours a day, but for various reasons is unable to reach his or her potential. On the one hand, this increases the productivity of the company, and on the other hand, it also increases satisfaction within the team.

The Work-Life Integration can thus pay a valuable contribution to a better, happier and more efficient working environment. However, a prerequisite for this is good time management on the part of the worktaker as well as the provision of New Work working methods on the part of the employer. In addition, there must be clear rules, to ensure that processes continue to function properly and that no one works too much or too little.

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