Work-Life Integration – An Emerging Trend – What does it mean for Your Career Now and in The Future?

Do you agree? – “Our personal and professional lives are melding, erasing the distinction between work and leisure hours.” [SOURCE: Turn and Face the Strange – Employment Trends in Canada, Brookfield Institute, 2019]

As both a Life Wellness and Career Coach, the issue of Work-Life Integration is one trend that brings to life both my areas of passionate pleas for action and my expertise. This career and workplace trends blog aims to raise awareness about this emerging global trend, share ideas about what it means for your career and life planning now and in the future.

 From Work-Life Balance to Work-Life integration – weaving our lives into a meaningful whole

Work-Life integration is about how what you consider “life” or “personal” areas are intertwined with what you consider “work”, which is a job, what you do as paid or unpaid tasks. It is not the same as Work-Life balance where one is unrealistically expected to work out a balance of time allocation that separates work demands and personal life demands, as illustrated in the diagram of a scale.


Comparison - Worklife Balance and Work-Life Integration

The following article explores the evolution from work-life balance to work-life integration. Work-Life Integration is realistic and has given credence to the more holistic definition of a career as the sum of who you are and all the work you do in all the roles in your life. [READ MORE]

Work-Life integration proponents, advocate for people and employers to look at their lives as an interconnection of interdependent parts that should not be strictly siloed between work and life as in the past. The integration is represented as wellness or well-being. Well-being is the state of being comfortable, healthy or happy and Wellness is the state of being in good health, especially as an actively pursued goal. These two concepts are used interchangeably by many people. The 8 dimensions of wellness are listed below:

  1. Spiritual wellness – belief in a higher power
  2. Emotional wellness – coping effectively with life
  3. Physical wellness – investing in exercise and health
  4. Intellectual wellness – creativity, expanding knowledge and skills
  5. Financial wellness includes – finding and using financial resources well

(5a) personal financial and life management

(5b) business management or side hustle development,

6. Career wellness (occupational are – work/job) – work that is meaningful

7. Social wellness – relationships and support systems

8. Environmental wellness – space you live in; social contribution to help others, your community and the environment.


As you can see from the 8 wellness areas, they cover both what could be labelled as “personal” (1-6) and work (7-8), in an integrated and meaningful whole. In terms of career and life planning, one is encouraged to plan to use this framework as a guide. Areas of emphasis in each year, month, week or day will depend on many variables such as age, location, resources, family needs, personal needs, support systems etc. Therefore, the plan and actions to take are personalized.

In terms of this emerging trend, the key message is: think of your life as a meaningful whole that is interconnected, interdependent and to feel aligned, “dance” amongst the 8 areas depending on the pressures and needs facing you, and your priorities.

Trends Source 1: Turn and Face the Strange – Changes Impacting the Future of Employment in Canada – Released April 2019

 This report was produced by Brookfield Institute in Canada and it is one of the key sources for the trend we are looking at today on Work-Life Integration. The authors provide fascinating information about the work-life balance, workplace issues and what this means for Canadian lives. While the report is on Canada, it is globally applicable with some contextual differences that you would have to explore for yourself. Their main message is in the quote –

 “The workday may no longer be defined by specific hours and days, and instead is intertwined with all parts of life. Individuals may design their own careers, with a focus on flexibility, and may have an employer for three days a week while also maintaining a side business (or two). With this shift will come a greater reliance on self-management, as workers need to balance competing responsibilities.” [SOURCE: Turn and Face the Strange Trends Report]

Key ideas explored in the report for noting are outlined below:

  1. Work-Life Balance – this is an area of high dissatisfaction and a concern for many.
  2. Sabbatical – Paid and unpaid sabbatical is offered by employers as a retention strategy and to reduce employee burn-out e.g. every 5 years.
  3. Flexi-work – flexible work schedule results in more satisfaction with work-life balance. Flexi work arrangements can be in terms of working hours and days, as well as 4-day weeks where one has compressed working hours.
  4. Generational differences“millennials want employers to focus on practical needs, such as balancing family with career, education, retirement planning, and alignment with values.” [SOURCE: Turn and Face the Strange Trends Report]
  5. Remote working – “bums on chairs” in offices is slowly fading away as remote location working; working from home or telecommuting is becoming more the norm.
  6. Companies focus on Work-Life Balance – employers have more Work-Life Balance Policies and initiatives such as turning off e-mail servers during the weekends and off-work hours, family time campaigns etc.

Work_Life_Balance-011 - Millenials

Year 2030 Key Implications and What you Could be Doing from 2019

According to the Canadian report, in 2030, there are 5 key implications from this emerging trend.

KEY IMPLICATION 1 – Life Wellness and a High pressured “work week” –

The work week could be unrelenting with personal and professional obligations designed to meet each worker’s needs.” [SOURCE: Turn and Face the Strange Trends Report]

 What you should be doing: – Use holistic wellness approach in life-career planning

University Career Centres are a great source of career information. Today we tap into the University of New Hampshire’s Health and Wellness reseources. The Wheel of Life Wellness below explains what you could be doing in each of the 8 wellness areas. The university website goes into details about each area and provides resources for you to do a self-assessment in each area and suggests actions to take to strengthen it.


KEY IMPLICATION 2 – Full-time employment no longer default for all –

Full-time employment with employer benefits could no longer be the default.” [SOURCE: Turn and Face the Strange Trends Report]

 What you should be doing – Side hustle – change your mindset and approach to career and life planning – you need multiple careers and multiple income streams.

KEY IMPLICATION 3 – Self-management Soft Skills –

There could be greater self-directed and individual-based work as Canadians navigate competing responsibilities between work and personal responsibilities.” [SOURCE: Turn and Face the Strange Report]


What you should be doing or thinking about – strengthen the collection of soft/essential skills that make up Self-management. (Use the diagram above for ideas)

KEY IMPLICATION 4 – Life-long learning

Professional development could be transferred to the employee and will be accomplished through lifelong learning.” [SOURCE: Turn and Face the Strange Trends Report]

What you should be doing – learn daily, using several methods that promote lifelong learning. Read more:

KEY IMPLICATION 5 – You are in control of Your Talent –

The locus of management and control may move from the employer to the individual, with each “employee” signing up for work they are interested in completing within a given time frame. [SOURCE: Turn and Face the Strange Report]

What you should be doing – create and manage your own “portfolio career”

 The concept of a “portfolio career” is one that involves pursuing several part-time roles and gigs as a combined source of income, building a strong personal brand and requiring self-promotion. You can also have an anchor job and other side projects that provide you income.


 TRENDS SOURCE 2 – Deloitte Human Capital Trends Report – 2018

The Deloitte Human Capital Trends Report for 2018 has a chapter on wellbeing as a corporate talent management strategy. They also noted that it is a fast-growing business with venture capital of up to US$2 billion being invested in it in the last two years to well-being in the form of videos, apps, books, fitness monitoring tools, wellness programs, wellness coaching etc.

 “As the line between work and life blurs, providing a robust suite of well-being programs focused on physical, mental, financial, and spiritual health is becoming a corporate responsibility and a strategy to drive employee productivity, engagement, and retention. While organizations are investing heavily in this area, our research reveals there is often a significant gap between what companies are offering and what employees value and expect.” [SOURCE: Deloitte Human Capital Trends 2018 Report]

Below are examples of what is offered by companies is  and those offering beyond traditional program components is a significant percentage.


In conclusion –

Some of the ideas shared here may be new or not so new to you, but they are worth looking at with fresh eyes. Focus on both the current realities of life and workplace challenges such as high unemployment, misaligned education systems and the implication of automation and Artificial Intelligence on the Future of Work. Look out for other resources from me – videos, tip sheets and the Weekly Take-a-Break and Learn Webinar this Thursday will explore practical actions to take. If you visit my Facebook Page, there are a lot of life self-coaching guides and resources to support a focus on holistic wellness. Like and follow the page 😊:

Need support? Get in touch with me using the details below.

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Written by: Ennie Chipembere Chikwema, Career and Life Coach; Learning Expert; 


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Twitter: @EnnieChipembere Date published:  27 May 2019

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