Mitzi Ilagan | ExecutiveChronicles
In the business world, everyone gets a busy working and personal life, it’s like, you buy one and then you get one for free. A typical employee rises up as early as 6 in the morning, suffers from heavy traffic, reads tons of emails, meets diverse people and comes home later than the working hours. This could happen every day in the life of an employee, but most of them try to do the so-called work-life integration rather than the work-life balance.
Work-life integration is more like this: it is when you see your mom talking to a business partner on a family gathering or when your dad composes and e-mail on his smartphone before the movie starts in a theater. They blend personal matters and professional work accordingly. On the other hand, work-life balance is like working for the fair 8-hour rule in the office and then spending time with your family for the rest of the day. Work and life integration doesn’t mean less work, it means working in more diverse ways, flexibly and creatively.
When one arrives in the office, he probably would check his e-mails, hammer away on his laptop keyboard, attend a meeting with his workmates and so on. You get so busy with paper works and meetings that you don’t even get the chance to check on your children. If you are into work-life integration, a simple text message or a 2-minute phone call will do. Besides, you get to answer phone calls and bring home office works at home in exchange of that minimal personal stuff that you’ve done in your workplace. One must be flexible enough to find and squeeze in time for both worlds he’s living in.
But then, they say that you can never have it all at once. There will come instances where you’d get torn on deciding whether you’re attending a national conference of your field of work or a ballet recital of your only daughter. Intuit CEO Brad Smith describes these as the “rubber” and “crystal” life moments. Rubber moments are those which you can easily bounce back from, as your daughter could have 5 more recitals in the next months. He says that “crystal” moments are not to be dropped, such as graduations, birth of a child or even a multi-million dollar deal meeting. Former Qwest COO Teresa Taylor adds that “staying in the moment” could justify your work-life integration scheme. If you’re on a meeting, be there. If you’re watching your son’s basketball game, be there. Do not wish to be somewhere else and do not try to do anything not associated with that activity.
Work-life integration does not only apply to the executives but also to the regular employees. Also, with the growing number of millennials working in corporations, working habits have shifted according to their ways. With the rise of modern technology, employees could work using their smartphones, tablets and laptops even at coffee shops or on a bus, making them more accessible to and for each other.
You may skip a breakfast, miss a family event or you may get sleep for a mere 5 hours, but you could always do the work-life integration—it’s just a matter of choice and priorities.