In today’s online-driven world, where we’re constantly connected to friends and colleagues through smartphones and social media, it can be hard to keep your home and work life separate. And with so many of us now working from home, it’s becoming increasingly harder to create clear divisions between our jobs and our lives. But this sort of separation is important, not just for your own mental health, but for your relationships.
In every organisation, there are two types of employees: those that blend their personal lives in with their work lives (integrators) and those that set clear boundaries between both (segmenters). While it’s important to get on with everybody at work (for your sake and that of your employer), it is also important not to allow your work life to spill over into your personal life.
So what kind of an employee are you? And should you be doing more to keep your work and home life separate?
Segmenters vs integrators
When employees set clear boundaries between their work life and home life, they’re less likely to experience conflict between the two fronts. They put themselves in a position to give both lives enough attention; in other words, they’re able to switch off one and concentrate on the other.
For example, a segmenter dealing with personal issues at home can simply ‘switch off’ when they start work. Vice versa, if they’re experiencing pressures at work, they can ‘switch off’ once they shut down for the day. This can help to reduce work-related stress, anxiety or other symptoms of ill mental health.
Integrators, on-the-other-hand, allow their work lives to blend into their home life. They’re more likely to talk about work at the dinner table or invite colleagues over for a party. Positive work experiences are likely to influence their home experiences and vice versa. While this is a positive example, it could also work to their disadvantage. Negative emotions experienced at home can also influence their experience at work which would in-turn influence morale, engagement and in most cases productivity.
The importance of separation
There are many reasons why separating home and work life is so important.
Firstly, to maintain your mental health. In the workplace, your inability to create a work-life balance that works for you can lead to stress which can lead to a burnout.
When left unaddressed, problems like stress, depression or anxiety can feed into bigger underlining mental health issues. The good news is many employers now recognise the importance of promoting positive mental health in the workplace and how it affects productivity and are changing their office culture to one that encourages positive mental health.
Separating your personal from your work life can also increase your work productivity. It should go without saying that your employers want employees who are hard-working and productive. Working after regular hours is proven to actually be less productive.
Advantages for employees
Encouraging the separation of home and work life allows employees to ‘switch off’ after work and come back raring to go. As we’ve already established, work-related stress is real and affects a large number of employees.
A major advantage of establishing a healthy separation between work and home is reducing burnout. Other advantages for employees include:
- Increased productivity
- Low absenteeism
- Less stress
- Improved employee health and wellbeing
- Stronger loyalty to the company
Advantages for employers
But embracing and encouraging a healthy work-life balance is not only beneficial to employees. Organisations can also benefit greatly from employees that separate their work life and their home life.
The first is reduced turnover and the costs associated with regular recruitment. In terms of non-profit organisations, this cost could be allocated to more important things. Other advantages to employers include:
- Boost competitiveness
- React to changing market conditions
- Attract top talent from other sectors