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A Framework for Work and Leisure Blending

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As we’ve defined before, work-leisure blending is the extent to which work and leisure overlap. Researchers recently created a framework to help organizations ensure the proper variety of work-leisure blended activities. In addition to the different types of activities discussed in our previous article here, we breakdown the framework to help you define the right work and leisure blending for yourself and your company!

3 Dimensions of Work and Leisure Blending

As you think about how to structure and create work and leisure blended activities, this new framework provides some key things to consider. As you review these 3 dimensions, remember that providing a variety of work-leisure blended activities is ideal for employee wellness and commitment. This is because the ideal mix of work and leisure blending is very individual. Thus, a variety allows employees to pick and choose what’s right for them.

Integration

The first dimension to define an activity is it’s level of integration or segmentation. This is not the same as the work-life balance concept but describes the actual activity. A highly integrated activity is one where you are doing work alongside the leisure. One example is a team competition based on the amount of code written in a month. This activity includes a competition or some form of play but it also includes writing code for your job. On the other end of the spectrum is segmentation. A highly segmented activity is one where a work context is involved but you aren’t actually working. For example, work happy hours, reading a few chapters of a book at your desk, or doing a 5 minute meditation all count as segmented activities.

A common segmented activity is a team happy hour!

Interestingly, highly integrated activities help employees get into flow and improves productivity. But, employees tend to prefer segmented activities and see them as more leisurely. Again, a balance of both types of activities in the workplace is key.

Structure

The second dimension of work-leisure blended activities is the level of structure. Structured activities are ones created by the company. This includes things like holiday parties, formal wellness programs, and team building outings. Unstructured activities are ones created and chosen by the employee. This includes things like taking a break and an informal lunch with coworkers. In addition, there are semi-structured activities in the middle of the continuum. An example of this is an employee-led book club that has company approval.

Similar to segmentation, employees prefer unstructured activities. We know employees like autonomy, plus, it feels more like true leisure. Yet, structured activities are also important. We know that fostering relationships at work is important so companies needs to provide opportunities to do so.

Interactive

The final dimension of work-leisure blended activities is the level of interaction. Activities can include independent, parallel interactive, or joint interactive leisure. To elaborate, employees participate in independent activities when they meditate, play a game on their phone, or take a solo walk around the block. These activities are done individually. Parallel interactive activities are done side-by-side with colleagues. For example, when employees take a yoga class together, they are interacting in parallel. Finally, employees can also participate in joint interactive activities. These include team building games, happy hours, and dinners. In other words, when employees have to directly interact, they are doing an activity jointly.

Taking a break to read a book is an example of an independent activity.

Interestingly, employees feel more committed to an organization when participating in interactive work-leisure blending activities. However, independent activities are also recharging.

How the Dimensions Combine

So, what do all of these dimensions mean? We know each activity is a combination of these three dimensions. Imagine a highly segmented, structured, parallel interactive activity. This can look like employees taking a company-paid yoga class. What about a highly segmented, unstructured, independent activity? Think of an employee doing a 15 minute mediation after lunch.

As you can see, the combination of dimensions can change the vibe of a work-leisure activity entirely. And, this is where I go back to the idea of variety. People prefer different types of activities. Some people love to be social and others hate it. I love taking advantage of company-provided wellness perks. Yet, others prefer to do their own thing. We all know that person who hates all company-sponsored social gatherings. And, we know the person who loves them. Just like in all other wellness topics, what works for one person doesn’t work for another.

In conclusion, it’s critical for employers and leaders to think about providing a variety for their employees. Blending work and leisure can have so many benefits. Thus, it’s important to try to do it right!

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