Work-life balance has been pushed so heavily as a selling point by many companies. As the working landscape continues to evolve and change, with each industry changing at different rates, is it really still possible?
It’s still debated whether or not work-life balance is even achievable. The difference of opinion stretches across different industries and job titles. With one side saying it cannot be done if you want to succeed at work and the other saying it’s not sustainable and will eventually lead to more burnout and health problems.
With this in mind, which is more effective? Work-life blending or work-life balance?
What Is Work-Life Blending?
Forbes did an interview with Kathleen Pai, the Vice President of People at Ultimate Software, where work-life blend was the term coined after they observed workers incorporating work and life together. Instead of having specific times blocked out for work and personal life, work-life blending has the two mixed in with each other. The static lines between the two are basically blurred.
For example, if someone needed to work extra hours to complete a project and knew they didn’t have obligations one that day, they could stay extra hours in order to complete said project. The following day they could have personal business to take care of, such as attending to their children, medical appointments, etc., and this may lead to them having to leave work early.
Work-life blending essentially removes the lines between the two. Employees will integrate the two, which makes their schedules more flexible and more fit for sudden changes.
The benefits of work-life blending would include productivity and freedom. Employers would gain the benefit of having their employees produce better results as employees work when and where they’re the most productive as opposed to forcing themselves to work, even if they have to drag their feet. Having employees work during the specific times they’d produce the best results means less wasted time and a more positive work experience. The freedom or flexibility to change their working hours and location add immense value, as it prevents workplace burnout. The freedom to pursue interests outside of work while still properly meeting professional responsibilities will lead to more fulfilled employees.
The potential drawbacks of work-life blending involve the personal health of employees and burnout. Due to the blending of work and non-work activities, it’s much easier to favor one of the two heavily. People described as workaholics will overwork themselves and cause burnout, conversely, someone who is more focused on personal responsibilities may underperform. Being unable to disconnect from work fully may lead to faster cases of burnout, while being unable to disconnect from your personal life may cause problems in the workplace and affect the quality of work.
What Is Work-Life Balance?
Most people will be familiar with work-life balance as it’s been heavily talked about, specifically with the human resource departments of offices worldwide. It’s supposed to be the ideal division of time and energy, splitting work apart from non-work. The point is to not let one bleed into the other by setting clear boundaries. Theoretically, work-life balance allows people to achieve a healthy balance between their professional and personal lives, which leads to their improved well-being, and increased job fulfillment and satisfaction.
In actuality, it’s quite a challenge to achieve an accurate balance between the two. The current working-scape is fast-paced, with technology making jobs much easier to do and allowing many jobs to be done from anywhere. This makes it a challenge to actually unplug yourself from work and fully commit to any personal activity. Chat applications installed on phones exacerbate this by allowing employees to see incoming requests even after hours. As a result, some people are left feeling guilty or inadequate as they’re unable to achieve a healthy work-life balance.
The Wrap Up
Both professional and personal organizational styles have their strengths and weaknesses. It’s up to individuals to find out which works for them. Employers also play a big role as companies that don’t allow for much flexibility won’t be the best places to try and practice work-life blending and essentially force employees to practice work-life balance.
Some people will thrive in work-life blending environments, while others may prefer a clearer distinction between the two that work-life balance brings. With that in mind, it’s important to prioritize your well-being and happiness as that will produce better results and longevity in your chosen career.