Are our personal and business lives moulding together?
In the last 18 months, professionals have been through a process of reevaluation and in the wake of economic and environmental uncertainty, are asking themselves how they wish to continue to lead their lives. The habits of people, both in their work and personal lives have greatly changed in response to the pandemic. As our working lives entered our homes, the blurring of our business and personal lives has never been greater. According to an Aviva report in 2020, over 50 percent of UK employees believe that their home and work life has become increasingly more blurred.
Bobby Ward, Co-Founder and Managing Director at Vorto Trading explores the relationship between our business and personal lives and how they are increasingly moulding together, including the advantages and disadvantages to this ever-blurring landscape.
Before we delve deeper into the benefits and setbacks of our work and personal lives becoming increasingly more integrated, we must ask ourselves why and how this has happened. In the height of the first lockdown, Forbes asked the question: ‘Is A Blurred Work-Life The New Normal?’, citing a study that described the smartphone to be an ‘adult pacifier’ due to the fact we have it on us at all times and we have a tendency to become less inhibited when we have it. ResearchGate also cites consumer technology to be a reason for the intensifying of the blurred boundaries between work and private spaces as more and more people are using their privately owned phones and laptops for work tasks and vice versa with company technology being used for personal use. Our digital devices are very powerful and agile. We can perform a great manner of our work-related tasks with them. Whilst the pandemic has intensified the acceleration of our work and personal lives being more blurred, we were already on this path before the pandemic due to technology. Yet now as more of us are working from home, we must look at the challenges we face to achieve a ‘healthy’ work and life balance.
The obstacles we face and how to overcome them
One of the main concerns about our increasingly blurred worlds of personal and work life is the question of setting boundaries. What are the limits when your office is in your home? As with many problems in life, it is often thought that a problem shared is a problem halved. Companies and employers must propose the question to their employees in order to get the best out of their team and collectively find solutions that empower both business and the wellbeing of employees. Communication is key and if we are open about the challenges we face on both a personal and professional level, we will be able to find a balance between the different domains of our lives. Our personal lives are complex and mental, physical, and financial well-being come into play here, with a report from Aviva urging companies to invest in targeted at-home support for people so they can manage their stress and anxiety whilst working from home, whilst also limiting the urge to work longer hours and to set healthy boundaries for rest and relaxation.
Benefits to having our work and personal lives more intertwined
There has been a traditional line of thought running throughout society that the blurring between our personal and work lives has been and continues to be a bad thing. However, there are benefits to having increasingly blurred boundaries such as the capacity to have flexibility. The coronavirus has induced an honest conversation surrounding working from home and how home life and work-life can work well together so that an employee can do their very best work. However, in order to achieve this, it is important for both employees and employers to have an ongoing open dialogue about all their life domains and how best to manage expectations, thus creating an environment that is both functional and manageable.
Employees will differ when it comes to setting goals for their work-life relationships. Some will be looking for segmentation and others will be searching for integration. Regardless of their choice, they will arrive at moments of conflict along the way when it comes to realising their individual preference. The key to moving forward in this new way of living is to build trust and integrity to build rapport with clients and partners to enable businesses to grow. Compassion, open conversations, and collaboration will be key to carrying us forward.