Work-Life Integration: Effectively Blending Work & Life
September 8, 2017
How to Help Employees Blend Work and Life Effectively
Five years ago, forward-thinking HR executives were thinking about work-life balance and how to help busy, stressed-out employees find enough downtime outside the office. In over two years of Herman Miller workshops, participants consistently ranked “work-life balance” as their top concern, yet also felt that their employers didn’t care enough about it. Today HR buzz centers around “work-life integration” and how to help employees more easily bring their home life into work and their work into the home.
Gallup’s 5 Essential Elements of Wellbeing
According to Gallup, there are universal elements of wellbeing that cross geographic and cultural boundaries. For employees to feel good about life, they need wellbeing in these five areas:
- Career Wellbeing: to like what you do for work
- Social Wellbeing: to be loved and have relationships with others
- Financial Wellbeing: to be able to manage money effectively.
- Physical Wellbeing: to feel physically well and able to do things
- Community Wellbeing: to be engaged with the local area or groups
For employers to support employee wellbeing, they must pay attention to their lives outside the office. For many years, employers have offered perks such as gym memberships and health insurance in order to improve employees’ physical wellbeing. Increasingly, employers are offering voluntary benefits for financial wellbeing beyond traditional life insurance, including financial planning, loan assistance, and long-term care insurance.
Many employers now see the wisdom in turning their attention to the remaining categories of wellbeing—social and community. Work-life integration is key to helping employees engage in those areas.
What Is Work-Life Integration?
Work-life integration is a logical evolution from ‘work-life balance’. Balance implied that work and life were in competition, but integration connotes the real-world experience where career-minded employees are committed to managing both work and family priorities simultaneously. After all, employees cannot truly leave work behind when they go home. Smartphones and cloud computing make it easier for employees to keep up with work priorities from anywhere, during the work day and after hours.
Blurring the Lines Between Work and Home with Mobility
One of the best ways to help employees integrate work and home life is to allow them to spend at least part of their time working from home. A 2017 Gallup survey revealed that 43% of employed Americans spend some time working remotely. Nearly one-third of those that work remotely do so 4-5 days of every week—basically full-time.
Allowing remote work delivers benefits for employers. Remote employees are equally engaged compared to in-office peers. In terms of recruiting and retention, Gallup finds that “flexible scheduling and work-from-home opportunities play a major role in an employee’s decision to take or leave a job.” Employees even report being willing to take a small pay cut in exchange for working at home. Best of all, studies at many different companies have demonstrated remote workers are more productive.
Flexible Scheduling Helps Employees Integrate Work and Life
One way that employers can help employees achieve better integration is to allow them some autonomy over their work schedules. According to research by CareerBuilder.com, 63% of employees believe the traditional “9 to 5” work model is outdated and prefer flexibility in their work schedule. This is particularly true for Millennials who are expected to comprise half of the workforce by 2020.
Flexible scheduling is a tremendous benefit to parents. Pew Research found more than half of parents find it difficult to juggle work and family. One-third believes they are not spending enough time with their children. Flexible scheduling can help working parents be present at more of their children’s special events.
Offices Will Require Less Space and More Scheduling
Companies can help foster employee wellbeing and work-life integration by providing support for mobile workers and flexible scheduling. Asure Software’s Hoteling and Mobile Workforce Management solutions can help your organization reduce your real estate footprint while maintaining the right work spaces for mobile employees and easy-to-use scheduling tools for work and meeting spaces.