Work-life blending: When private and professional become one

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Work-life blending: When private and professional become one

Nowadays, New Work is the order of the day, ushered in by advancing digitalization, artificial intelligence and more. Today, almost nothing works without technology. Thanks to it, we are always and everywhere reachable, can access important data at any time and thus theoretically work around the clock. Thanks to all these technical achievements, which we simply cannot and no longer want to do without today, the boundary between work and private life is becoming increasingly blurred. This is known as work-life blending, and that's exactly what we're talking about below.

Being available around the clock, working in a home office and being able to squeeze in private appointments whenever necessary - that actually sounds great, doesn't it? But is work-life blending really as great as it sounds, or does it have its downsides? Let's find out together.

What is work-life blending?

We've already hinted at it: work-life blending is where professional and private lives get mixed together. A clear SeparationThe kind of communication that was the order of the day just a few decades ago has become unthinkable in some jobs today. An important video conference is coming up and you're on vacation right now, but you still participate without hesitation? That's the epitome of work-life blending. Your cell phone rings on Sunday evening and your boss has something important to discuss with you so that you can get started productively on Monday?

You take off without thinking about it for long. What is already normal today was completely unthinkable not so long ago. Numerous studies show just how much work-life blending has already found its way into our everyday lives. YouGov, for example, surveyed around 750 academics. 22 % of them said that they work on a weekend or holiday around once a month, 20 % reported that they even go to work every weekend.

Particularly striking was that every second person responds to e-mails and calls during free time, 12 % daily. However, this does not happen because their employer demands it, but on a voluntary basis. It's amazing how natural it has become for us to always be on call, isn't it? The work-life balance gets pretty confused. But from today's perspective, that's not a bad thing at all, because it's no longer about a healthy separation of the two areas - a smooth transition is much more important.

work life blending advantages and disadvantages

Work-life blending vs. work-life balance

Work-life blending and work-life balance sound almost the same, so how can you get your head around them? What sounds similar is fundamentally different. So always listen carefully! With work-life balance, the professional and private spheres are clearly delineated. As soon as your working hours are over, you have free time and your job is at rest. You concentrate only on yourself, your family, friends and everything that is good for you.

The idea behind this is that you can simply switch off and take time for yourself and your physical and mental well-being. For this, private matters have no place at work. Opposed to this is work-life blending, the exact opposite. "Blending" means "mixing" and the name says it all. It developed in the early 1980s through the 1990s, which is why Generation Y in particular is often familiar with it.

According to the Roman Herzog Institute, Generation Z, on the other hand, primarily stands for a strict separation of the two areas, i.e., work-life balance. Why is that? Because, on average, Generation Y grew up much more performance-oriented. That's why their representatives are more willing to blur the boundaries and put their private lives behind their jobs. Generation Z, on the other hand, sees this in large parts not as a role model, but as an example they don't want to follow under any circumstances. Family and mental health are the focus, and flexibility at work only plays second fiddle.

Why is work-life blending important?

We live in an incredibly fast-paced world. Things sometimes change faster than we would like to admit and then quick reactions are required. Whether you're already off work, have a day off or are on vacation is irrelevant for the time being. The important thing is to act quickly and get ahead of the competition.

That's where the end of the day takes a back seat. That's exactly what makes work-life blending so important these days.
When private and work life merge in a deliberate and controlled manner, this offers advantages not only for employers. Employees also benefit. Let's take a look at exactly how.

The advantages and disadvantages of work-life blending

When private and professional life suddenly merge into one big whole, for some it's a nightmare come true. For others, it's a wish come true that allows for an incredible amount of flexibility. We're looking at a double-edged sword here, one that really does divide minds. Some advantages and disadvantages clash.

Flexible and self-determined

Probably the biggest advantage of work-life blending is the freedom it gives you. You can manage your time relatively freely and decide for yourself when you do which tasks. If you have an important private appointment, you don't have to take a day off or a vacation, but you can simply schedule your work around it.

Today you don't have so much to do or you were able to finish your tasks incredibly fast? Then you don't have to wait on site for your end of the day, but can simply go home and spend time with your loved ones earlier. You're still taking calls, responding to emails, or working your way into a new project, but you can confidently do that in the comfort of your own home. The next day, the workload is much heavier? Then you don't have to put yourself under enormous pressure, but spend a little more time at work and do everything conscientiously.

Become productive according to the biorhythm

"The early bird catches the worm". But you'd much rather just let the worm be the worm and stay in bed for a while because you're just not a morning person? You need a little time to get going and can't think clearly in the morning? Thanks to work-life blending, that's absolutely no problem. You simply start your working day later.

For example, are you a true night owl, have the best ideas at late hours and work most productively then? Then follow your biorhythm, work-life blending allows you to do that! You can make perfect use of your productivity phases. The times when you are still a bit sluggish, you spend comfortably at home.

Increased satisfaction and motivation

Clearly, anyone who can divide their time relatively freely and decide for themselves when to pursue which tasks is happier. Surely you know this too: There was just an incredible amount of things to do, which is why you go to bed very late in the evening. You set your alarm clock and immediately get in a bad mood when you see that it will ring again in a few hours. By morning, of course, nothing has changed and you go to work completely demotivated. Fortunately, thanks to work-life blending, this has come to an end!

Unpaid overtime

All this flexibility is great, no question. But it can also turn into a disadvantage. This is especially true if you do small tasks during your free time and don't keep track of the times because you think it was just a few minutes. But those supposedly few minutes quickly add up and you're doing unpaid extra work.

What's more, you often don't even realize how much time these small tasks actually take. Reading and answering an e-mail usually only takes a few minutes. But if there are countless files in the attachment that you still have to go through, it quickly becomes an hour or more.

Private conflicts

If you're always available for work-related matters, even in your free time, you're virtually never off work. This can lead to conflicts within the family or the partnership. You're always caught between two stools, because you have to decide whether to spend time with your loved ones or whether you'd rather go back to work. Finding a healthy balance between family time and work is very difficult with work-life blending.

Health consequences

Too much work can make you sick, that's a fact. The constant availability and readiness in the work-life blending can be stressful, no question. You can never completely switch off and take time out, because the phone can ring at any time. Time and time again, you sit down to work, put up with conflicts with your loved ones, and put yourself at the back of the line. Your stress level rises and rises, maybe even without you being aware of it.

You are plagued by inner restlessness, which leads to sleep disturbances. Your night's rest is not restful at all and you wake up the next morning just as tired as when you went to bed. The feeling of simply not being able to switch off and being permanently under stress can also lead to depression.

work life balance

3 Tips to Improve Work-Life Blending

Work-life blending has long since found its way into everyday life. So how can you best benefit from the advantages and minimize the disadvantages? We've put together three important tips for you.

1. do not forget your private life

When you are constantly available and ready to work, your private life quickly comes up short. It's important that you also note down the amount of work you do in your free time, even if you think it's negligible. On the one hand, this gives you an overview of how much extra work you actually do, and on the other hand, you can claim compensation for the extra hours you work. This is not possible without notes. Remember that you live for yourself and your happiness, not primarily for the job.

2. stay disciplined

It's a common phenomenon: the more freedom you have, the harder it sometimes is to stay on schedule. You like to put off tasks, because no one is forcing you to do them right now. You get distracted easily, maybe even watch TV on the side when you're working in your home office, and you need much more time than usual. Your free time keeps getting shorter and shorter because you don't follow through with your work phases consistently. Stay structured and disciplined!

3. listen to your body

You notice how the blurred boundaries keep getting to you, your thoughts only revolve around work and maybe even physical complaints join in? Sleep disorders, headaches, backaches or digestive problems are typical symptoms of stress. Remember, you are not a machine. Maybe meditations can help you, autogenic training or journal writing will help calm your mind and reduce stress.

Self-help is no longer enough? Then don't be afraid to seek medical help. Even with work-life blending, you're allowed to take time off due to illness if you need it, so don't forget that.

A healthy mix

Work-life blending is on everyone's lips and is becoming increasingly popular. It gives you flexibility and the ability to plan your day based on your personal biorhythms, to name just a few benefits. But some disadvantages should not be swept under the carpet. For example, being ready to work all the time can also have a negative impact on your health. So be sure to practice Mindfulness!

If you manage not to let it weigh you down too much and stay structured even when you don't have a set schedule, then you can optimally benefit from all the advantages of work-life blending!

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Reviewed by Dr. med. Stefan Frädrich

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