Technology has increasingly blurred the boundaries between our work and social lives, which has rendered work-life balance a constant topic for conversation.
A paper I wrote about last year suggested that thinking about work may be key to ‘switching off’ at the end of your work day. The rationale was that when we have unfinished business from our work day, we tend to then continue thinking about it after work too.
This more fuzzy boundary between work and home is repeated in a second study that’s soon to be published in Human Relations.
The paper challenges the belief that engaged employees need to clearly disconnect work life and home life. Instead, it argues that integration of the two is key to our general effectiveness in both domains.
“In the long run, it may be better to allow employees’ minds to wander and take occasional phone calls from home rather than set up policies that establish strict and inflexible boundaries, which could discourage the development of functional ways to juggle both”, they say.
The rationale is that by successfully juggling both spheres, we develop methods that allow us manage the transition effectively, and with less stress and strain than those with less effective methods.
For instance, if an employee is adept at utilizing things like flexi-time, their work performances are less disrupted because personal issues don’t spill over into work time. The authors also believe employees can utilize things like goal setting to ensure that we’re not distracted from the task at hand.
“Overall, our findings suggest that integration, rather than segmentation, may be a better long-term boundary management strategy for minimizing resource depletion and maintaining higher levels of job performance during inevitable work-family role transitions,” they conclude.