The Modern Work-Life Integration

By: Jenna Monocello

*HEARS FOOTSTEPS APPROACHING FROM BEHIND WHILE ONLINE SHOPPING AT WORK… MINIMIZES SCREEN AND SWIFTLY OPENS EXCEL DOCUMENT WITH AN ABUNDANCE OF NUMBERS*

Sound familiar? Me too. At least this is how I functioned at my former job.

This structured approach is necessary in certain industries, and it works for many people. Coming from a marketing education, however, I prefer a more laissez-faire structure. Now, I work in an environment that operates on the idea that our personal and work life can be integrated. We don’t feel the need to hide our monitors if we take a minute to do some online shopping, scroll through social media, or look for fun weekend plans; our team and management understands that we use these breaks to clear our minds and recharge. Most of these formerly secretive moments are now spent with the team, bonding and connecting more deeply over personal interests, plans, and perspectives.

This workplace platform only succeeds when built upon a strong foundation of trust throughout a team. My manager trusts that I will always complete my work by set deadlines — if I don’t finish a project during normal hours at my desk, I log on and finish at home.

I can’t speak for every career out there, but in my experience, there are ebbs and flows with workloads. Some days we’re so slammed with work that we look at the clock and realize it’s 5pm and we haven’t touched our lunch (JK I never forget about food — but I’ve heard this happens??). Other times, we’re aimlessly staring at the clock wondering how we’ll make it through the next six hours. What I appreciate most about my company’s atmosphere is the respect for employee time: there is no strict hour tracking or micromanaging, instead I’m empowered to spend my time in the most productive way possible based upon my personal style.

This is one of many ways in which a renewed work-life integration can lead to an overall healthier relationship with work. We’ve all felt the “Sunday Scaries” at the moment we realize our weekend is coming to an end, but unlike my friends who get anxiety about Monday’s creeping inevitability, I sleep soundly knowing I’ll wake up and head to a job that truly brings me happiness while caring about my mental and emotional well-being.

Not only does this laissez-faire atmosphere feel more accommodating to me personally, it also creates a more productive workforce. Many studies have shown that employee productivity can soar in a more flexible work environment — a strict 8am–5pm day five days a week assigns an arbitrary boundary to an employee’s ability to work smartly. Some days I work until evening hours, some days my projects are done at 2pm. For me to finish work and occupy desk space for three hours to meet an unscientific timeline is a waste of both my and the company’s time. Why shouldn’t employees’ free time be valued and celebrated? When we’re able to be flexible, we’re able to truly sell out for the company we serve.

In an increasingly interconnected and accessible world, it’s become impossible to cleanly turn work or social lives off and on the way we used to. If an old friend texts me during work hours, it’s ok for me to want to respond. If a brilliant idea comes to mind late on a Sunday night, it’s also okay for me to pop open my laptop and get down to business. Workplaces that understand and embrace this notion cultivate teams that are more honest, productive, and healthy as a result — who wouldn’t want that to be the case for their team?

Jenna is an Associate at 113 Industries, specializing in Consumer Insights. Her biggest mistake recently has been memorizing her credit card number, increasing her cell phone usage exponentially.