Volume 5, Article 24

Volume 5, Article 24

At Our Best at Work and Home: A Qualitative Investigation to Guide Post Pandemic Work-Life
Laurel A. McNall and Jessica M. Nicklin

Citation: McNall, L. A., & Nicklin, J. M. (2021). At our best at work and home: A qualitative investigation to guide post pandemic work-life. European Journal of Applied Positive Psychology, 5, 24, 1-12.

Processing dates: Submitted 1st April 2021; Resubmitted 30th April 2021; Accepted 16th June 2021; Published 22nd December 2021

Volume 5, Article 24


Background/Aims/Objectives: The quest for “work-life balance” has been sought after for decades yet remains elusive, and some individuals even describe it as a myth. Other practitioners have suggested that employees should instead strive for “work-life integration”, but the pandemic has highlighted major concerns with the blurring of work and personal roles. We explored what employees said (in their own words) about navigating valued work and nonwork roles before and one year into the pandemic. We then offer recommendations for ways to combine valued work and non-work roles as we move towards a post-pandemic world of work.

Method: Using an inductive, qualitative approach, we surveyed 28 working professionals (Sample 1) in December 2019 (pre-pandemic) and 28 participants (Sample 2) in February 2021 (late-pandemic). Participants were asked about the experience of when they felt they were at their best and worst with managing their work and personal life.

Results: Using thematic analysis, we found evidence for several themes (time management, boundary management, accomplishment, relationships, well-being) across both time points and offered illustrative quotes. However, some differences emerged for employees one year into the pandemic.

Discussion: Generally speaking, participants perceived they were at their best when they had time to plan, to be fully present in one role, when they experienced accomplishments and high quality relationships, and when they felt higher levels of well-being, which aligns with several of the major tenets of Self-Determination Theory.

Conclusions: Practically speaking, this research offers strategies for individuals and leaders that will result in greater thriving across multiple life roles.

Keywords: work-life balance, work-life integration, work-life thriving


Laurel A. McNall, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Psychology at SUNY Brockport and her research focuses on work-life enrichment, worker well-being, and electronic monitoring. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Canisius College and a PhD in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from University at Albany, SUNY.

Jessica Nicklin, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Psychology and Associate Vice President for Student Success at the
University of Hartford. Her research interests include workplace motivation, positive psychology, and work-life balance.
She earned her bachelor’s degree in Psychology and PhD in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from University at Albany, SUNY.