As a working mother, I always have been curious about how people are managing their increasingly complex lives. Most of us want it all – to be a great parent, spouse, and friend but also have a flourishing career that brings intellectual challenge and recognition.
Technology and a global recession have changed the way people work all over the world and work/life integration is a global phenomenon.
At Coalesse, we conducted research in New York, San Francisco, London, Munich and Paris, where we followed workers and learned about their life and work context at home, the office and on the go. We gathered insights about when people enjoy working, where and how. We learned that the equilibrium of work and life is still sometimes fragile. From our research, we offer you insights on how to best integrate both.
Orchestrating you day
Across cultures people – especially working parents – agree on the importance and necessity of highly orchestrated days and routines to support qualitative work and life integration. Some people welcome boundaries and create islands of time with more explicit focus on either work or life. Segmenting activities into short units for ease of interweaving and being flexible with schedules and expectations can be helpful.
Key home moments
Working parents want to be with their family for key moments (story or bedtime, parent / teacher appointments etc.). But once the kids are in bed, they take advantage of a quiet time to catch up on work. This is what we called the Second shift 🙂 It requires some discipline, but it also provides a guilt free sentiment when being an active participant in the joys of life.
Having a choice of where to work can be empowering
Mobile workers and those who work across time zones on global teams adapt to working “anywhere and anytime” constantly. While distributed work provides the benefits of flexibility, it also requires mobility orchestration skills and resilience towards the unexpected. Engaging in face-to-face collaboration in the office so companies can build their culture and catalyze innovation is equally as important as providing individual choices on how and where to work. Allowing yourself to choose a place to work where you are most inspired can fuel creativity.
Managing responsiveness individually
The “anytime responsiveness” attitude towards work seems quite accepted in the US – but less so in Europe. Disconnecting from technology seems to be a conscious and desired choice as Europeans we talked to showed an increasing need to disconnect from work, period. Some of them pointed out the importance of being able to disconnect from work and communication technology in order to enjoy free and family time as well as to find focus. Not being expected to respond to work related things “anytime” seems like a more important privacy aspect for Europeans.
Childcare at work
Companies and individuals seek new solutions for working parents to allow them to be focused and productive while being close to their small children.
In San Francisco, a co-working space for working parents and freelancers just opened last July called NextKids, where parents can use the co-working space while child care professionals look after their kids next door. Company day care is also an increasing offering worldwide and is playing a role in attracting talent as well as offering further ways to increase integrated work life qualities.