Working from home: Are you a segmentor or an integrator? It could make a difference.

When it comes to thinking about working from home the psychology literature would suggest there are broadly two types of people.

Some of us are Segmentors. We prefer to keep work and non-work separate so may struggle with them being in the same place. Segmentors may find it difficult to strike a balance. Sometimes this is to do with work role. So, some of these things are job as well as person specific. Some jobs have weak role boundaries while some maybe can offer more flexibility. Maybe there is significant overlap between personal interests and professional ones. Possibly the job allows for a great deal of autonomous work. These things may make it difficult for some to keep things separate when working and living in the same space. Some jobs have strict role boundaries so may be easier to segment even at home especially if you are a segmentor.

Some people are Integrators. Such people prefer (or are happy to) integrate work and non-work. Alternatively, where a job has weak role boundaries it may be inevitable that the two merge. Integrators might therefore struggle at home with a job that has strong role boundaries and maybe such jobs are less suitable for home working.

My job as an example.
For most of my working days each week I work for a university. This job drifts between days when role boundaries are weak. For example, I may have the opportunity to read a lot, and I often read for pleasure the sort of books I need to read for my job. There is no boundary between the two. I browse the web, take notes, connect ideas, and spend time thinking. I do this for work, and I do this for myself for pleasure. On days like these it can be difficult to see whether a particular activity is work related or not. Some days though I need to deliver lectures and seminars. There are strong role boundaries on those days, and even when I was delivering things from home during the pandemic, I had to be in a certain place at a certain time to do a certain thing with little flexibility. I work freelance some of the week and on those days it’s often difficult across a whole day to see any delineation. I’m definitely a natural integrator which is probably why I love home working but I’m happy to be a segmentor when the tasks of the day require it.

Our well-being when it comes to our whole lives is an interaction between person – role – and environment.

What sort of person are you?
What sort of roles do you have at work and outside of works?
What is the environment like you have to operate in? Does it help or hinder?

Are you a segmentor or an integrator?

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