Is work life balance real?
The research boiled down WLB into 8 different theories, each with varying degrees of overlap. Some believe work and life are distinct and separate, some believe they overlap, some believe they influence each other, and so on. The only thing they all seem to agree on is that there probably is no one right definition of WLB.
So what’s a gal (or guy or they) to do in this grand search for work/life balance? Consider a newer theory: “Work/life integration.”
Work/life integration, or WLI for our purposes, argues that there aren’t such distinct lines to be drawn between work and life, and outside factors within each realm can also impact their blending and overlap, specifically community. We have community, or people, in each of these sectors; family, friends, peers, mentors, and so on, in our personal life. Coworkers, bosses, employees, partners, clients, and so on, in our work life. Rather than work and life between two distinct domains, WLI considers them to be ecosystems, filled with people who can help or hinder the balance of work and life.
When we apply WLI to our life, we forgo the shiny carrot of work/life balance. Work/life integration is more forgiving, fluid, and apatable—we know that certain periods of our life require a higher demand on our time at the office, other periods of time require higher demands on us at home, and through all of it, we have supporting characters in this dynamic who can aid us along the way.
Today, consider who is part of your work/life integration. Where can you increase your support and decrease your friction? Who is adding/detracting from your WLI?
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Morris, M. L., & Madsen, S. R. (2007). Advancing work—life integration in individuals, organizations, and communities. Advances in Developing Human Resources, 9(4), 439–454.
Reiter, N. (2007). Work life balance: What do you mean? The ethical ideology underpinning appropriate application. The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 43(2), 273–294.