There’s a (somewhat) new concept that’s been discussed in recent years about work-life integration trumping work-life balance. Work-life balance is based on the idea that you have a clear line of separation between work (your job) and life (self-explanatory). When you are at work, you work, and when you’re not, you don’t. Work-life integration, on the other hand, is based on the idea that separating the two is impossible, so you should try to work seamlessly between them, taking a conference call from home or checking your email when you have a minute.
While we can understand the benefits of work-life integration—we offer the flexibility for people to work from home when needed or modify their hours worked as necessary—the idea of not being able to shut yourself off from work leaves us a little cold.
If we have to take a stand, we are stronger proponents for a work-life balance. We want our people to have full lives outside of work. We want them to feel like when they leave the office, they can leave their work at their desk and pick it up the next day. We feel that our people are more productive and enjoyable to be around when they do. When not working, we want our people to be able to fully engage in whatever activity they choose without having to think about checking their email or making a phone call.
We love the range of activities that our people are involved in when they are not at work. These activities teach new perspectives on problem solving, some of which can be recontextualized at work. They provide a stress relief to the frustrations of life. And honestly, they make for much more interesting lunchtime conversations.
With that thought in mind, we asked our people what they do to help them get out of work-mode and de-stress. Here is a sampling of what Substantialites do after hours and how/why they do it:
“Boxing is one of the few times in a day when I can shut my brain off. There’s no time to focus on anything but making every move a tiny bit better, faster, and harder than you just did it. It’s a different kind of concentration than the rest of my day.”
“Pretty much all of the things I listed [snowboarding, breakdancing, playing video games, traveling] feed my adrenaline junkie side…Traveling is part escapism, part seeing/experiencing other places and cultures. I love breaking because it’s such a great form of personal expression.”
“I work at a computer all day long, and it is nice to do activities [cooking, triathlons, hiking, yoga, photography] outside of work that do not involve staring at a screen. Cooking is a nice way to relax after work. I grew up in a small town in Iowa, and Seattle is a big city for me. I like to go hiking on the weekends to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.”
“Physical exercise really burns off the mental fog and steams out the brain wrinkles. Cooking is very zen for me, and it’s a very immediate/mindful/in-the-moment activity as you both have to pay attention to the food as it transforms and it very strongly engages the senses. Cocktailing, I mean, booze. ;)”
“[Playing guitar and keyboard, writing/recording music, cooking, meditating, cycling, yoga] keep me fit and creative and I get to meet and hang out with interesting people. Cycling is a great way to sightsee and spend more time outdoors while commuting or doing errands or other stuff you have to do anyway. Also a form of exercise that I will actually do!”
“Tennis is social and a team sport, so I like learning to work better with other players, be active and improve my skills at the same time — the competitive nature is fun too! Running gives me time away from screens and life to clear my head. Joining a book club has been a fun way to get to know my friends through discussion around books I might not have otherwise read (and the relaxing/wine is fun too).”
“I like being near water. It can be added to the category of relaxation for me. Water sports make me feel so at peace. As for photography, I love being able to look back on moments and see expressions on friend’s faces in photos.”
“I was forced into playing piano when I was a kid, and luckily ended up loving it as I’ve gotten older (good work, mom and dad). I got into running to counteract my baking hobby…I like that most of my hobbies [Running, hiking, camping] involve being outside - you just can’t beat a summer here in Seattle.”
“Outside of work, I’m a papa! I actually destress at work. Working at Substantial is like a vacation for me. The time I get to put in at work is my only personal time!”
“I’ve been doing [and teaching] capoeira for 18 years after seeing a demo and I’ve been playing music since I was 8. The activities that I like to do either allow me to be social, physically active or to be by myself.”
“Mentor high school students, eat potato salad, play Scrabble, drink Miller High Life, shop for vinyl, go to shows, thrift, wear mumus, play with my dog Detective Munch, karaoke… potato salad & High Life are delicious, movement clothes and mumus are comfortable and luxurious.”
Main image from Flickr user Bob ~ Barely Time.