Conventional wisdom about work-life balance has always been that you should separate the two as much as possible. When you leave your office for the day, you should leave your work at work. Do not mix the two. If you allow work to impinge on your personal life, you will only create more stress and anxiety. That has been the storyline.
Mixing Work and Personal Life
But now, recent research by The Tavistock Institute showed that the conventional wisdom may not be true. Separating the two so rigorously may not be the best way to improve workers’ well being and performance. It was believed that keeping the two domains separate enabled employees to focus and perform better. But the research showed that mixing the two reduces the stress of transitioning from one to other without affecting the employees’ ability to do their jobs.
The best way to maintain a good work-life balance may, in fact, be to combine work and personal life. If you need to make a phone call to set up a doctor’s appointment at work or take care of some other personal tasks, you should be allowed to do so.
Switching from work to handling personal tasks helps employees by allowing them to take a break from work and to become more effective at dealing with both areas. Employees that are allowed to cross between the two domains develop methods and strategies for moving back and forth more efficiently and effectively with less mental effort.
Flexible Schedules Help
Creating more flexible schedules for employees can help in combining work and personal life. The research showed that employees who had more flexible working schedules were able to handle interruptions of their personal life more smoothly, without letting these interruptions affect their job performance.
In fact, companies that have incorporated flexible schedules into their operation have had higher levels of employee satisfaction and also in many cases have saved money.
The research indicated that long-term, integrating the two domains, rather than sequestering them, would actually lead to better job performance by making the transition between the two more fluid and effortless.
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