Work-Life Balance vs. Work-Life Blur


According to a report by Plantronics, there are two types of flexible workers: ‘Integrators’ and ‘Boundary Keepers’. One likes to keep things separate, while the other likes to mix things up. Which are you? And what are the strengths and weaknesses of each?


There is a lot of talk about ‘Work-Life Balance’, the apparent nirvana of working life, but ‘integrators’, like WorkSnug founder Richard (@WorkSnugRichard), argue that nirvana is less about keeping work and ‘life’ on opposite scales, but about blurring the boundaries and accepting work as a part of life.

Work-Life Blur: Profile of an ‘Integrator’

  • Integrators can switch easily from one task to another, keep things ‘fresh’ and match tasks to their energy and mood.
  • They’re ‘always on’ and available out of normal office hours, but they’re offline frequently too – for short periods – as they mingle non-work activities into a traditional ‘working day’.
  • Integrators don’t mind interruptions, and enjoy regular updates from any sphere of home, work or social life, at any time.
  • They suffer less from the stress of home and work needs conflicting, because they’re better able to manage both at once or switch between the two.

In contrast to Integrators, ‘Boundary Keepers’ are pre-disposed to compartmentalise their lives into clearly marked times for work and times for home or social life. Interestingly, WorkSnug’s own Audrey (@WorkSnugAudrey) (wife and business partner of ‘Integrator’ Richard) is a Boundary Keeper.

Boundary Keepers can find flexible work a bit more challenging, but are most productive when ‘fully present’ and engaged in either work, or home life, and can give either one their full attention.

Work-Life Balance: Profile of a ‘Boundary Keeper’

  • Boundary Keepers prefer to minimise the amount of switching between ‘modes’ and see switching as a drain on productivity.
  • They’re more likely to establish a ‘traditional’ working pattern and working hours, and are more disciplined about sticking to this.
  • Because of this discipline, family and friends are less likely to experience work conflicting with ‘non-work’ time.
  • Boundary Keepers are likely to resist (even resent) interruptions, and are more likely to consider work intruding into ‘non-work’ as a problem.
  • They may be better at ‘switching off’, and preventing the concerns of work from troubling their non-work times and vice versa.

Learn more about trends in flexible working in the free white paper study Home Working: Lost In Translation (PDF, 6 MB) by Plantronics.

Photo credit: Saphhiren

Are you an Integrator or a Boundary Keeper?

It’s important to remember that when it comes to working styles, there is no right or wrong. Recognise your own style, and the style of people you work with, so that you manage yourself and your interactions with others as effectively as possible.

And, if you want to tell us which you are, please do in the comments below!

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