In recent years, the concept of work/life balance has become increasingly popular as people try to juggle the demands of work and personal life. However, some researchers have argued that work-life balance may not be a realistic or desirable goal. Instead, they suggest a new approach: work/life harmony.
Work-life harmony emphasises the integration of work and personal life rather than striving for a strict balance between the two. This approach recognises that work and personal life are not separate domains that compete for time and attention but are interconnected and interdependent.
Research has shown that work/life harmony can lead to improved well-being, job satisfaction and organisational outcomes. For example, a study published in the Journal of Managerial Psychology found that work/life harmony was associated with higher levels of job satisfaction and lower levels of work/family conflict. Another study published in the Journal of Career Development found that individuals who valued work/life harmony over work/life balance reported higher levels of life satisfaction and lower levels of burnout.
So, why might work/life balance be dead? One reason is that the traditional view of work/life balance assumes that work and personal life are separate and that achieving a balance between the two requires strict boundaries and trade-offs. This view may not reflect the reality of modern life, where work and personal life are often intertwined and overlapping.
Another reason is that work/life balance can create additional stress and pressure. Striving for a perfect balance can be stressful and may lead to feelings of guilt or failure when it is not achieved. In contrast, work/life harmony allows or flexibility and recognises that there will be times when work takes priority and times when personal life takes priority.
So how can you embrace work-life harmony in your own life? Here are some tips::
- Emphasise integration rather than balance. Instead of trying to keep work and personal life separate, look for ways to integrate the two. For example, you might work from home one day a week to spend more time with your family or pursue a personal hobby.
- Communicate your needs with your employer. If you need flexibility or support to achieve work/life harmony, talk to your employer about your needs. Many employers now offer flexible work arrangements, such as telecommuting, flexible hours, or part-time work.
- Prioritise self-care. Taking care of yourself is an important part of achieving work/life harmony. Make time for exercise, relaxation, and other activities that promote well-being and reduce stress.
In conclusion, work/life harmony may be a more realistic and desirable goal than strict work/life balance. By embracing integration and flexibility, we can create a more fulfilling and balanced life that allows us to thrive both at work and in our personal lives.
Here are some examples of how individuals and organisations embraced the concept of work/life harmony:
- Patagonia, a clothing company known for its commitment to sustainability and work/life balance, offers flexible work arrangements, including flexible hours and telecommuting, to its employees.
- The French government recently passed a law giving employees the ‘right to disconnect’ from work email outside of working hours, recognising the importance of work/life harmony and reducing stress.
- Some individuals have embraced work/life harmony by pursuing ‘portfolio careers’ which allow them to combine multiple jobs or pursue multiple interests simultaneously.
- By embracing work/life harmony, individuals and organisations can create a more fulfilling and balanced life that benefits both the individual and the organisation.