The work-life merge is a term coined by Facebook executive Emily White and describes life where personal life and work are no longer separate entities at odds with each other, but instead blend together. The work-life merge sees people taking time out of their working day for personal errands, but then sees them re-starting their laptops the same evening to catch up on work.
The idea is different from the traditional concept of the work-life balance, which saw work and personal life as conflicting opposites – one hard work, one pleasurable. The difference is that the merge does not see work as a chore; people who have embraced the idea tend to love their jobs and do not consider it a hardship.
Katie Bickerstaffe, the British CEO of Dixons says, “I love what I do, but I also love my family. I don’t think there’s any reason you can’t do both. You just have to make sure you marshal your resources and yourself.” So for Bickerstaffe this means working a four day week and spending Fridays with her daughters. This being said, the days she does work are long (often involving overnight trips) and she is in constant contact with the office, even on her days off.
The work-life merge is tapping into two trends of British working life. The first is that we are facing a tough economy right now, which means those who want to cut down their hours may not be able to afford to. The second trend relates to technology and social networking, confusing friends and work contacts while giving us the opportunity to keep in constant contact with the office.
Of course there is a downside to the merge – being permanently ‘switched-on’ means you cannot get away from work, the working day becomes longer and moves at an even faster pace. It is all about personal preference, for example; those with young children may find the merge suits them well, fitting into the chaotic rhythms of their life, while others who need to be physically present for their jobs may find the merge impossible.
The occasional chaotic feeling the merge gives us does however feel more achievable than trying to ‘have it all’, so it may be better to be merged than to be submerged with guilt and impossible expectations.
If you want personal advice on how to manage your time both at home and at work, you may find it beneficial to speak to a life-coach. For more information, please see our personal development page.
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