With inter-connectedness increasing by the minute and working styles changing to working out of informal spaces like homes, coffee shops, parks and common community areas, the boundaries between personal and professional lives, between employers and employees are becoming more and more blurred and porous.
Work and work-related issues and tensions enter the home and personal lives get entwined with the work-life. There may not be any harm in this but managers, employers and employees need to be aware of and respect these boundaries and work out a reasonable balance between them in the future of work.
Connectivity is a major player
In the new world, connectivity is a major player, be for business or for social purposes. It will not be possible to even exist, leave alone thrive and succeed if this inter-connectedness is ignored or done away with. It is mandatory and has to be present at all hours. BUT, being connected does not mean that people are accessible for work round the clock. Being connected does not translate to I am available for work, get in touch whenever and wherever. Employers and employees need to understand and implement this thought.
As it is work and personal lives spill into each other’s worlds – work is done or taken home, personal issues are discussed at length at the place and all-in-all there is a sense of being over-worked on one side and loss of privacy on the other. There is no “me-time”, there is no time for the family and there is no time to pursue one’s interest, as in the work arena people are on call 24×7. With people working across time zones, very often there is a call to work at odd hours. This results in early burnout, stress, health issues and reducing involvement in the workplace.
The more employees give into unreasonable demands from employers, greater are the chances of being called upon to do even more. Employers and employees need to jointly work out time schedules and set limits on the quantum of intrusion into personal time. If not done, there will be greater work-related tension and burnout in the workplace.
Need to respect boundaries of space
Employers and employees also need to respect boundaries of space. In the collaborative and connected world, business associates, colleagues, bosses can become “friends” on social networks and get access to personal details about people’s lives which they may not wish to share with work-place people. Whether people decide to go ahead and allow this or not, is a personal decision. But it is worth remembering that it is wisest not to mix the personal with the professional. Employees may find it awkward to refuse “friend invitations” from bosses… hence it is incumbent on bosses, on employers and managers to set these boundaries and honor them.
Employees may accept these invitations even if they don’t want to, because they are worried that their refusal may be viewed in a negative light by co-workers and bosses. There are social media channels that have a professional angle (e.g. LinkedIn) which can be accessed if there is a desire to connect with colleagues outside work. And if people still wish to mix the personal with the professional, then they need to be aware of the possible problems that may arise so that they are prepared to tackle them if and when they appear.