Top execs in banking, retail, and tech are saying they don't practice work-life balance - because they found something better

JP Morgan ChaseIt’s all about work-life integration now. Kristin Lemkau, CMO of JPMorgan Chase, pictured.
  • JPMorgan Chase CMO Kristin Lemkau told Business Insider that, like Jeff Bezos, she values work-life integration over work-life balance.
  • For example, while she’s at her son’s soccer game waiting for him to play, she’ll answer some emails.
  • Other executives in a range of fields have discussed the importance of work-life integration, for themselves and for their employees.

In a recent interview with Business Insider CEO Henry Blodget, Kristin Lemkau discussed how she juggles her many work and family responsibilities.

Lemkau is the CMO of JPMorgan Chase, meaning she manages a $US5 billion marketing budget.

Lemkau said she agreed with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ stated preference for work-life integration, or harmony, as opposed to work-life balance. She admitted that technology has “blurred the lines” between work and home, so you have to be careful to be “present and confident in whatever you’re doing.”

At the same time, Lemkau added, she uses technology to her advantage. Here’s an example: “I’m at my son’s soccer game yesterday on Mother’s Day in the driving rain and 45 degrees. He’s on the bench, I can get a couple of emails done. He’s playing. I’m totally there.”

That is to say, Lemkau doesn’t think there needs to be a hard line between the time she spends at work and the time she spends at home, as long as she’s doing a good job both as a leader and as a parent.

Jeff Bezos mentioned that he thinks the phrase “work-life balance” is “debilitating” at an awards event hosted by Axel Springer and Business Insider US editor in chief Alyson Shontell. As Business Insider’s Zoe Bernard reported, Bezos said it’s more productive to see work and life as two integrated parts, and as a circle instead of a balance.

“If I am happy at home, I come into the office with tremendous energy,” Bezos said. “And if I am happy at work, I come home with tremendous energy.”

Many executives expect work-life integration for themselves and for their employees

Other executives think similarly about the value of work-life integration over balance.

Katharine Zaleski, cofounder of Power to Fly, a recruiting platform for women in tech, told CNN, “You have to respect the fact that people are going to be putting so much time into your company, so it’s OK that they integrate some life into the workday by going to pick up a kid at 4 o’clock.”

And Weebly CFO Kim Jabal previously told Business Insider about the importance of flexibility. (Jabal used the term “life balance,” but seemed to be alluding to work-life integration.) Her schedule? “Home an hour in the morning, get kids to school, work in the office 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., have dinner with kids, work three hours at night.”

As Jacob Morgan writes on Inc., even those of us who aren’t high-powered executives can start thinking about how to achieve work-life integration. Morgan advises readers to write down their personal and professional goals and then consider:

“Are your goals working together, or is it impossible to achieve your personal and professional goals? If your professional goal is to start your own business and a personal goal is to travel or try a new hobby, look for ways that they could work together. With work as life, there really shouldn’t be a differentiation between personal and professional goals.”

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