Elsie sighed in frustration as she glanced at her to-do list and noticed the pending tasks. She winced as she remembered she still had her toddler son to attend to and help with his homework as well as personal grooming chores. Her job was so demanding that she had little or no time for social activities and time to properly care for herself and her son. How was she supposed to combine being a company’s secretary, a lady and a good mum all in one? she thought to herself.

Seth was a professional Human Resource manager of a fast-growing tech company. The job took almost all his time as he barely had time to spend with family and friends or to take courses to help him grow personally and in his career. It was one excuse or the other, which made him even fall out with his best friend; who was tired of being understanding and was even angrier as Seth didn’t make it to his wedding. Seth had begun to feel lonely as family and friends rarely checked up on him physically or even called him on phone, perhaps as a retribution for the fact that he had no time for them too. If only they understood, he often thought to himself. How am I supposed to build a meaningful relationship that could lead to marriage? Will I even have the time to plan and be away for a wedding? Who will really be attending since my being sold out to work has pushed back everyone who is close?” These thoughts kept running through Seth’s mind as he wrapped up the last of his work for the day. He turned to his bedside clock and realized it was already past 1:00a.m. He had just a little over three hours to sleep before he had to get up and prepare to leave the house early enough if he was to beat the usual morning traffic.

These scenarios are fictitious but these are some of the realities of most people in the work space in different spheres. In one way or another, we are all dealing with seemingly alike situations like Seth and Elsie. We all have to combine work and daily life activities together which can be very draining and which ushers us into “The Work-Life Integration.”

Work-Life integration is an approach that creates more synergies between all areas that define “life”: work, home/family, community, personal well-being and health. Work-Life integration in simple terms is creating a connection between your daily life activities instead of work and life being exclusive to each other.  “Work-Life balance” and “Work-Life Integration” seem alike but are not exactly the same. Work-Life Balance is a separation of our work from our daily life activities while Work-Life Integration is making your work a part of your daily life and vice versa. Example: Having to leave work at 5:00p.m to pick your child from an after-school centre is a work life balance, while leaving the office pretty earlier and taking your child home whilst you also work and have some time to spend with your child is work life integration.  Another example of Work-Life integration is doing all your 5 days a week tasks in say 3 or 4 days and have the extra day to yourself.

With the current realities of the Covid-19 ravaging the world, work-life integration is becoming the new reality but a lot of persons are experiencing challenges in adjusting to this new normal of having to bring life to work or work to life. I welcome you to the Work-Life Integration series. Stay with me as we will deal with achieving Work-Life Integration in our next edition. Stay safe.

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