Workers Blending Their Personal, Business Lives

Employees doing personal tasks at work, office-related tasks at home
Personal vs work life

With demands on their time from both employers and families, workers often have to make a serious effort to juggle their different obligations. A new survey suggests that many are struggling to separate their work lives from their personal lives.

To get an idea of how successful workers are at setting apart the different aspects of their lives, National Car Rental, a brand of car rental company Enterprise Holdings, surveyed 995 frequent business travelers between the ages of 25 and 65. All respondents were either employed or self-employed and worked more than 35 hours per week. In addition, each respondent had traveled for business in the past 12 months, staying away from home a minimum of eight nights in total.

The survey revealed that for many respondents, separating business and personal responsibilities has not been easy. More than two-thirds of workers — 67% — admitted that they try to make a clear distinction between their work lives and personal lives. Yet many don’t appear to be having much success, as 65% said they consider separating the two an unrealistic goal. As a result, some are trying a different approach, with 55% saying they “blend” their work and personal lives rather than try to keep them separate.

Dissecting a ‘blended’ week

In practical terms, workers are doing work-related activities at home and home-related activities at work. The survey found that during an average week, respondents:

  • Answered emails after work hours on 3.97 days
  • Came to work early or stayed late on 3.72 days
  • Took work calls during off-hours on 3.00 days
  • Answered personal emails during the workday on 2.94 days
  • Took personal calls in the office on 2.85 days
  • Worked on personal projects during office hours on 1.63 days

Senior and executive leaders were particularly in favor of the concept of blending, with 65% saying they prefer to mix the different aspects of their lives in this way compared to 52% of managers and 46% of non-managers.

Blending spills over into travel

Business travel is another area where respondents tended to mix their business and leisure activities to engage in what’s sometimes referred to as “bleisure.” Among respondents, 81% said they take part in some type of bleisure travel such as:

  • Incorporating leisure activities into a business trip (61%)
  • Extending a business trip into a leisure trip (41%)
  • Booking a vacation around a trip for work (33%)

One reason it may be difficult to separate business and personal responsibilities is because for many workers, the workday is getting longer. The more time you spend at work, the less time you have for personal tasks, which could require you to handle some personal tasks while at work.

If you do find that the idea of blending your work life and personal life appeals to you, consider asking your employer if you can work remotely, as many employers are planning to increase remote opportunities.

Tamara E. Holmes

Tamara E. Holmes is a Washington, DC-based writer who covers personal finance, entrepreneurship and careers.