From the Experts: Harmony Through Work-Life Integration

In a post-pandemic world with hybrid and remote work environments, balancing a career with personal responsibilities is no longer a viable option for many. Professionals are now taking a more holistic approach through work-life integration, a new way of doing life. Work-life integration, rather than setting rigid boundaries between work and life, blurs the lines between one’s professional and personal lives, paving the way for employees to strike an equilibrium between personal and professional responsibilities. We asked our experts how this approach can create harmony in one’s life and how leaders can help foster cultures that promote work-life integration.


Answers From the Experts:

Lyn Turknett, Co-founder and Co-chair, TLG

How does a work-life integration perspective create harmony in your life vs trying to balance it all?

Work-life balance implies that we have two things we are keeping in balance. We have to work, but we hope to also have some time for “life.” Work-life integration recognizes that we have one precious life, which is filled with many things, and one of them is work. How do we create a harmonious whole?

I like to think of there being multiple areas that we are integrating, and we need to pay attention to all of them. The Haas School of Business has a helpful framing and lists four big areas:
    • Home and Family
    • Work and career
    • Our personal health and well-being
    • Giving back to the community – connecting to the larger community

The word “integration” helps us think of our life in a holistic way, and also implies that the lines between areas are best blurred. Most people with children experience this blurring, especially if they are primary caregivers. Those who are most successful at managing home and work usually recommend “intense focus in the moment” – being very present wherever you are – with your children, with your teammates, or having coffee with a friend.

To read Lyn’s full article, click here!


Given the developing landscape of hybrid and remote workplaces, how can leaders help to encourage an organizational culture that fosters work-life integration over work-life balance?

We know a lot of the things that make a difference – flexibility, recognition of competing demands, support for community involvement and work-from-home options, but at the top of the list for me is a more equitable, less hierarchical workplace that recognizes the value and the humanity of every person. A great example of recognizing humanity I came across came from Frank Blake, who wrote about the Crazy Good Turns “Thank a Server Challenge”. They sent out $50 Thank You Gift Cards to 100 different people, challenging them to leave massive tips to servers, baristas, and other service industry workers. It gave them the opportunity to be generous when they might not normally be able to do so while also benefiting those receiving the tips.

I came across this interesting and telling comment in a TechFunnel Article:


“Let’s say one of your dependents is sick and you need to see them, but you’re swamped with work and can’t see a way out. You will be perplexed and despised as a result of this predicament. You will be unable to concentrate on your work. If there had been a work-life integration policy in place, you could have spent time with your sick dependent by leaving the office early and marking emails while being at home with them. Instead of seeing work and personal time as two separate entities, busy professionals can discover common ground.”


That’s not a lot to ask.

Tim HuffTim Huff, VP of Leadership Development, TLG

How does a work-life integration perspective create harmony in your life vs trying to balance it all?

A work-life integration approach emphasizes the importance of allowing the different roles we take on in life to be a priority at different times of our day. Instead of forcing rigid boundaries around each of our roles (professional, parent, community volunteer, etc) that control the time we place on these roles, we allow ourselves the ability to focus on each of the roles in a way that feels harmonious and aligned with our values and priorities. Instead of trying to balance everything equally, this perspective focuses on finding a way to create a seamless flow between the different areas of our lives.

By adopting a work-life integration perspective, we can create a more flexible and sustainable approach to managing our time and energy. By prioritizing activities throughout our day that are meaningful and aligned with our values, we allow for an overlap of work and life throughout our entire day.

When rigid boundaries are in place between our different roles, we don’t allow them to overlap naturally. Instead, we create tension in our daily lives that can prevent us from bringing our best selves into each of our roles. We find ourselves falling behind in our work and feeling guilty when we’re with our family and missing out on important family events and feeling guilty when we’re working. Conversely, if we give ourselves the latitude to allow our values and priorities to drive our daily schedule, we greatly reduce this tension. Being proactive about blocking out time on your schedule to pick up your daughter from school and help her with homework and catching up on work for an hour or two later in the afternoon can be a good example of this. Especially when encouraged and supported by our organization’s leaders, we can take control of our daily lives and fully live out our values!


Given the developing landscape of hybrid and remote workplaces, how can leaders help to encourage an organizational culture that fosters work-life integration over work-life balance?

As the nature of work continues to evolve with the rise of hybrid and remote work environments, leaders have an important role to play in fostering cultures that support work-life integration over work-life balance. Here are a few ways:

    • Set clear expectations and boundaries. By setting expectations and boundaries around work hours, availability, and communication, employees can more easily plan their work around their personal lives and feel empowered to prioritize their work and personal roles accordingly.
    • Encourage flexibility. Promoting flexibility in scheduling and work assignments can include offering flexible work hours, remote work options, and other policies that allow employees to integrate work and life seamlessly according to their individual needs and preferences.
    • Foster a culture of trust. Leaders can foster a culture of trust where employees feel empowered to manage their work and personal responsibilities in a way that works best for them, This can include building relationships with employees based on mutual trust while recognizing and celebrating employees who successfully integrate their work and personal lives.
    • Provide support and resources. This can include offering wellness programs, employee assistance programs, and other resources that support overall well-being.
    • Model work-life integration. Leaders can demonstrate their commitment to work-life integration by leaving the office at a reasonable time, taking time off for personal commitments, being careful about sending e-mails and delegating tasks at night or over the weekend, etc. Although the nature of work-life integration encourages working at times that are convenient to the individual, leaders need to be aware of the example they’re setting when spending several hours working on a Sunday.

A leadership culture of support and encouragement can play a very critical role in allowing everyone in an organization to live out an integration of their work and personal lives. Leaders who do this can expect to see high employee engagement, reduced employee turnover, and increased productivity.

Cindy Cheatham, Senior Consultant, TLG

How does a work-life integration perspective create harmony in your life vs trying to balance it all?

Work-life integration has been a major theme of my professional life. I have always sought to optimize the right balance and integration of my work with the pursuit of personal passions and making time for community service. All the best professional career coaches would advise someone to look holistically at their life and where the intersection of their skills, passion, purpose, and values are reflected. It is harder to do this because it requires a lot of self-reflection and not all of us have the benefit of valuing this or having help with counseling, coaching, or self-reflection. For example, when I graduated from business school, I worked in corporate strategy consulting but with my passion for bringing good management and leadership to community causes, I was able to influence Bain & Company to do a pro bono project with Boys & Girls Clubs of America. I also put together a peer-giving circle when at Bain to find colleagues who shared a passion for generosity and community engagement.

Now, as a business owner, I am able to align my personal, professional, and family life by being proactive in pursuing client work that is most aligned with my core passion and interests as well as the type of people and organizations that I enjoy working with. I have integrated work with small business owners as well as strategy and management consulting work with social change leaders. My passion is working with leaders so as I have developed and cultivated a wide range of work with leaders, I am continuing to expand that work through increased work in executive coaching which I started over 25 years ago but have honed my skills and professional credentials in this area.

As a business owner, I generally have more control of my schedule so I can choose to work early mornings or nights in order to take a long weekend to accompany my kids to tennis tournaments, or now with them in college, to visit friends or family. I also make it a top priority to try to block my calendar for key exercises including my weekly ALTA tennis on Thursdays whenever possible. If a work commitment cannot be scheduled accordingly, I do not make myself available, but I am usually able to.

Not everyone holds this kind of flexibility in the schedule, but the key is to be goal-oriented and to be planful with our careers and our career direction. I have a professional and personal vision statement that are integrated. My vision is to help people and organizations to identify their purpose and to develop a road map to meet that purpose. My life and my work are all grounded in that vision including my volunteer board work and my work in my church and community.

Many of the most successful people pursue work and lose themselves along the way. It pays off to pause and reflect, does this whole life and how I am living at work, at home, in my neighborhood, in my community, and in my health reflect the best version of myself? COVID caused a lot of people to reevaluate and make significant decisions. Let’s not have to wait for another pandemic to value the opportunity to create the most meaningful and purposeful integrated life. You can have work-life integration today – don’t wait!

Susan HitchcockSusan Hitchcock,  Founder and Host Emerita of Women in Leadership, TLG

How does a work-life integration perspective create harmony in your life vs trying to balance it all?

First and foremost, I gave up long ago on pursuing a “work-life balance.” It’s a myth, and as a goal, it sets you up for failure and lots of guilt. In my early career in the corporate world, I experienced very little balance. While I truly had a passion for work, the demands were extremely high, and my personal life took a hit. Most women of my generation, especially in management and leadership roles, were competing for respect and responsibility on an un-level playing field. To achieve our ultimate career goals (cracking and breaking the glass ceiling), we felt like we had to give 200% to our jobs. Of course, that’s really impossible.

For me, the decision to change direction after almost 25 years in the professional world was totally transformative. Transitioning to a new company and role outside the corporate world opened an entirely new opportunity and perspective. Soon I discovered for myself what a difference work-life integration could be. I define it as the ability to pursue purpose and passion in your work and your personal life. I worked just as hard but my heart was completely in it, I loved what I did, and I felt much more a part of every result. And – my personal life improved significantly.

I also realized that finding time to volunteer in the community in various leadership roles not only met some of my personal needs to contribute but was often directly or indirectly related to helping grow the business I was a part of!

For every decision I made, I asked myself, “How does this align with my values, the things in life I truly care about, e.g., empowering women, helping them grow as leaders, and supporting those who need a hand up?” I started saying YES to those types of opportunities and politely saying NO to those that didn’t align. That for me helped to create a feeling of “a full life” – one that allowed me to be ME, to be present at work and home or in the community as ME, who I am.

And, as I found out, I achieved more than I ever had when I was trying to “balance” work and life.


Given the developing landscape of hybrid and remote workplaces, how can leaders help to encourage an organizational culture that fosters work-life integration over work-life balance?

I think the best thing leaders can do is to model work-life integration. Instead of never mentioning your interests outside of work, share the fact that you have purpose and passion not only for the business but for your family, the community, and society at large. As a leader, it’s ok to acknowledge the challenges that your employees – and even you – often have with childcare, health issues, or parental care, etc. It’s part of life. People are people: with our strengths and our weaknesses, our aspirations, and our challenges. Here’s a suggestion. If you want to see a quintessential example of work-life integration, look up John Yates, attorney at Morris, Manning & Martin, LLP. During his outstanding career, John has received at least ten awards, the latest being the 2023 Leaders in Corporate Citizenship Ann Cramer Lifetime Achievement Award from the Atlanta Business Chronicle. He not only is highly successful in his career, but he’s one of THE most highly respected individuals in ATL. “John has an outsized appetite for connecting people, especially if it’s for the betterment of Atlanta.” He knows how to integrate purpose and passion for work and life, and he does it seamlessly and with just the right amount of humility and confidence. You just can’t find a better role model than John Yates. That’s also why he was honored with a Turknett Leadership Character Award in 2011!!

Alex AuerbachAlex Auerbach, Ph.D., Senior Consultant, TLG

How does a work-life integration perspective create harmony in your life vs trying to balance it all?

I think work-life integration is more about finding ways to make things work that align with your values, versus work-life balance is about trying to create some kind of equality around how you spend your time, which is very challenging. I think integration is a more realistic, flexible way of thinking about how you can best organize your life to support your goals and values.


Given the developing landscape of hybrid and remote workplaces, how can leaders help to encourage an organizational culture that fosters work-life integration over work-life balance?

I think the best step organizations can take is to lean into the flexibility. Rather than worrying about the exact number of hours worked and when, focus on the work being completed and the quality of the work done. If it gets done early in the morning or late at night at the convenience of the employee, that should be the priority over the hours themselves. This kind of flexible approach is at the heart of facilitating work-life integration.

Vicki AbelsonVicki Abelson, ACC, Senior Consultant, TLG

How does a work-life integration perspective create harmony in your life vs trying to balance it all?

As a working Mom with two young children, work-life balance seems to be an aspiration, a challenge, and an unattainable dream. At any given moment I am having to make an active choice about my priorities.

Can I facilitate a workshop or are my kids on spring break? Can I be the Mystery Reader or is that a prime time when my clients like to meet? What happens when the school calls because my kiddo has a fever? And what about time for my husband, friends, family, and *gasps*… myself?

Sometimes you just want to throw your hands in the air and walk away. And yet, I love my job. I love my family. I love the fact that I get to do it all, albeit inelegantly at times.

Finding that elusive work-life balance impacts not just parents, but all employees. Whether they are taking care of children, parents, pets, or plants, knowing that they can step away and take care of a priority outside the office leads to greater morale, overall productivity, and lower turnover. This, in turn, leads to improved company reputation and performance.


Given the developing landscape of hybrid and remote workplaces, how can leaders help to encourage an organizational culture that fosters work-life integration over work-life balance?

Here are three things that leaders can do to help:

  1. Clearly identify priorities and deadlines. What can be shifted, delegated, or perhaps deleted (Eisenhower’s matrix is key for this)?
  2. Allow for remote work when possible. The last few years have taught us that some thrive when working from home.
  3. Can this meeting be an email? Sometimes, the answer is yes.

Helping create work-life integration doesn’t have to be complicated, but the impact will be felt not just by the employees, but also by the company’s bottom line.

Brad Parcells, ACC, Senior Consultant, TLG

How does a work-life integration perspective create harmony in your life vs trying to balance it all?

The idea that we need “work-life balance” is too simplistic. It is more a focus on energy. As executive coaches, we work with leaders who are constantly stretching more into their day as the demands of their leadership are being challenged by the daily ambiguities and complexities of their environments. How can we ensure work-life integration? This question implies that work drains energy and life restores our energy. We spend a great deal of our time at work and many things there energize us, while plenty of things at home deplete us. The idea that we need “work-life balance” to stay motivated is too simplistic.

Rather, we must understand and manage our energy. We must learn critical skills to balance our energy levels to ensure we alternate high-performance periods with resourcing times. Athletes do this by alternating training with resourcing activities, and we must do the same via activities that give us energy.

There are four primary types of energy: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.

    1. Physical energy is the most familiar. It defines how tired we feel and how well we feel in our bodies. It is why we recognize we must get up and walk periodically. Physical refresh points in our daily schedules matter, and not just long-term plans to get fit.
    2. Mental energy is what we get from analytical and thinking tasks. Consider times when you are fine physically but mentally tired after a long period of concentration. We each have mental tasks that seem to drain us or lift us.
    3. Emotional energy derives from connecting with others—from giving and receiving love or appreciation, or helping a friend or colleague discuss their troubles. In turn, negative emotions such as fear, frustration or anger drain energy and cripple performance.
    4. Spiritual energy is what we get from doing something meaningful to us, something that speaks to our values and beliefs. We each have experienced working hard, and maybe late, on a project, and becoming physically and mentally tired. But somehow, we gain the energy to continue because it’s something that has fundamental meaning.

Understanding these types of energy is important for leaders who are confronted with constant change. As a leader, your emotions affect—and infect—the organization.

So, what can we do to better manage our energy? Here are a few tips:

    • Recognize you can’t stay at high energy and that time to recuperate is essential. Accepting this idea is the first step to better managing your energy.
    • Don’t bundle all the bad stuff together, which eats into your energy reserves and makes it harder to bounce back up.
    • Give yourself little boosts each day. Expressing gratitude, for instance, is a potent energy booster.

Basically, adopt ways to quickly boost your energy by identifying what drives and drains your personal energy levels. Then, incorporate them into your daily life at work and at home.


Explore the rest of our team!