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  • Puzzling & Balancing Life

    Integrating and segmenting life domains towards a balanced life puzzle

    Life puzzling: At the centre of my research

    The relationships between work and personal life have been on the public, business, and research agenda for about 35 years. Perspectives on these relationships have shifted from a work-family to work-life or work-personal life focus, from a conflict to a balance or enrichment view and, finally, from a segmentation to an integration perspective. This evolution, however, leads to a theoretical and practical impasse where neither integration nor segmentation can be seen as the absolute individual, organisational and societal value. In my research this lead me to re-think in terms of LIFE PUZZLING ……

    Indeed, life can be seen as a puzzle and making all pieces of one’s life fit together in a harmonious puzzle is more complex than one may think. Individuals may have three ways to build their life puzzle: 1- pieces may be integrated and may overlap, 2-pieces may be separated and divided, or 3- pieces may get integrated and, at the same time, separated. But how is that working?

    My research especially my thesis entitled: “Experiencing work/non-work – Theorising individuals’ process of integrating and segmenting work, family, social and private”  takes the discussion one step further and focuses on individuals’ work/non-work experiences, calling for a humanistic case.

    The humanistic case urges placing individuals’ work/non-work experiences at the centre of human resources and at the centre of the work-life field. The aim of the thesis is to theorise individuals’ work/non-work experiences in their individual, organisational and societal contexts. To achieve the purpose, the thesis presents individuals’ work/non-work self-narratives. These self-narratives of six French middle-managers, three men and three women, underline how individuals experience their diverse life domains, namely the work, the family, the social and the private and their management. The self-narratives have been generated through in-depth qualitative interviews and diaries.

    The thesis explores and provides an understanding of individuals’ work/non-work experiences from a boundary perspective. Focusing on the processes behind individuals’ work/non-work experiences, the thesis reveals that work/non-work preferences for integration and/or segmentation are not sufficient to understand individuals’ experiences. It is essential to consider the preferences in relation to their level of explicitness and the development of work/non-work self-identity. Moreover, it is important to understand the roles of positive and negative work/non-work emotions emerging in the work/non-work process as a respective signal of individuals’ satisfaction or dissatisfaction in how their life domains are developed and managed.

    The thesis contributes to the work-life field, especially the boundary perspective on work and non-work by presenting a model of individuals’ work/non-work experiences. The model pursued is derived from 33 theoretical propositions. The study suggests a two-dimensional approach for life domain boundaries as a systematic combination of seven boundary types (spatial, temporal, human, cognitive, behavioural, emotional and psychosomatic) and their mental and concrete natures. It suggests a three-dimensional model for work/non-work preferences, revealing five major archetypes of work/non-work preferences between segmentation and integration, and stressing the emotional side of the work/non-work process. It shows that individuals value segmentation on a daily basis and integration on a long-term. This thesis concludes that segmenting and integrating is essential for the harmony of their life domains namely their work, their family, their social and their private.


    Individual’s Work/Non- Work Experiences Dashboard® (Jean-Charles Languilaire)

    The thesis leads to the “Individual’s Work/Non- Work Experiences Dashboard®” that put the human back at the centre of their life puzzling processes. The dashboard is entirely combined with my services to offer a systematic and holistic approach to personal and human development.


    The dashboard reflects that individuals are segmenting AND integrating their 8 boundaries into their life puzzle for the harmony between one’s life domains namely one’s work, one’s family, one’s social and one’s private. The dashboard enables individuals and organisations to think about:

    • life domains without, a priori, considering solely work and family,
    • work/non-work preferences as the combination of integration and segmentation of life domains, through segmenting and integrating each boundary
    • work/non-work strategies beyond traditional time and place management,
    • leadership and self-leadership as resources to handle work/non-work strategies definition, implementation and maintenance
    • harmony and well-being are composed of balance, conflict and enrichment
    • work/non-work values and self-identity as engines work/non-work processes

    My current research

    Based on my thesis and my research on work/non-work boundary management since 2002, I continue to be focused on how individuals are segmenting and integrating their life domains namely their work, their family, their social and their private to reach a harmony.

    Today, I am pushing the agenda in terms of life puzzle. A priori, I am not more interested in one specific context as my model consider how individuals are making sense of their context, but my journey in different universities as well my personal life leads me today to focus on three contexts or research areas (even if I may do more in the future).

    Do you want to know more about myself and my research?


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