One of the big buzzwords in the tech sector is work-life integration. By now you probably have heard it and have slowly been implementing it at your own office, even if you do not have a complete idea of what it entails.
Basically, work-life integration is the natural evolution of work-life balance. Whereas work-life balance involves balancing two opposing forces- your work life and your personal life- work-life integration recognizes that these two forces can be complementary. Adding satisfaction or productivity at work does not have to negatively affect your home life, and it is possible to work and still maintain great interpersonal relationships with friends and family.
Work-life integration (a term I do not particularly like because it still implies that your real, worthwhile life is your personal life while your work life is an obligation that must become part of your personal life) takes many forms. For most companies, it involves offering flex time or productivity based salaries as opposed to hourly wages. For more daring companies, it means creating a company apartment complex or getting rid of an office altogether.
For me, work-life integration revolved around adventure. I wanted to integrate my work into my back pocket. Travel writing, without having to write about traveling, always sounded ideal to me.
When I became a mother, work-life integration meant being able to take off at a moment’s notice to handle a family emergency and being able to work around a newborn’s sleeping schedule. It also meant that I was able to use my experience as a mother to inform my work, and yes, I have done plenty of “mommy-blogging” since I became a mother.
At the moment, true work-life integration means that I can be in bed, beneath three layers of blankets as the three-day-snow continues to fall outside, if I wanted to. It also means that I am here, in the office, working alongside the tap-tap-tapping of three coworkers, getting much needed social proximity as the three-day-snow continues to fall.
In the end, work-life integration, and its evolution from work-life balance, comes down to having greater choice in how it is defined at any given moment.