Thursday, 24 November 2011

Work-Life Blur and Web 2.0

I read an interesting report recently entitled Work Life Web 2011 by Clearswift. The report is the result of research that surveyed employees and managers from organisations in the UK, US, Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, and Japan, examining the use and management of the ‘new social Web’ in the workplace.

This insightful research found that although Web 2.0 technology is acknowledged as ‘a potential tool for corporate success’, social media growing pains exist posing a challenge for employers and employees alike. It also looks at the blur that occurs between work and personal lives as a result of the use of web 2.0 technologies and the social web in particular.

An area of the report I found particularly interesting was the statistics emerging from the research:
  • 80% of managers see the business benefits of the new social Web. 
  • 48% of managers have identified Web 2.0 usage as an issue of concern. 
  • Concerns about security and data loss are preventing technology adoption to some extent in 87% of the companies surveyed. 
  • 68% of managers say they monitor employee Internet activity and 56% block access to particular social networks. 
  • 57% of employees report an overlap between their work and personal lives. 
  • 55% of both 18-24 year olds and 25-34 year olds believe that employees should be entitled to access Web 2.0 at work for personal reasons. Only 37% of 45-54 year olds and 30% of 55+ feel the same.

Since the emergence of Web 2.0 technologies, employers have responded with increased internet security in the form of blocking and monitoring. This has impacted on employer/employee relations as a big brother approach erodes trust in the workplace.

A growing challenge for organisations is the increase in the use of smart phones with managers reporting a 40% increase in the use of the technology.  The research found that 24% of managers actively encouraged the use of personal devices such as smart phones for work purposes. This poses a challenge as only 55% of managers reported having a company security policy covering personal device use at work, while 71% have a policy in place to cover social media.

One statistic I found intriguing was that ‘43% of employees report that their work and personal lives are completely separate’. Given the modern day work-life blur that occurs in many of our lives, it’s hard to believe this statistic. Perhaps the surveyed participants were less than realistic with their responses? Could it be a generational divide with a younger generation of workers understanding and accepting the interconnectedness of work and life versus an older generation of workers who see work and life as separate?

Most of us have taken the odd personal phone call or responded to text messages or emails from friends or family at work. Likewise, many of us have found ourselves responding to work emails, telephone calls and text messages out of hours. Updating one’s LinkedIn profile, participating in a work related online forum or researching a competitor over the weekend would also constitute work spilling into our personal lives. To say that work and personal life are completely separate would be a stretch even for the most vigilant work/life separatists among us.

Not that I object to the blurring of boundaries between work and life. It's my belief they are inherently linked, that an overlap is inevitable. The concept of work/career being completely separate to ones’ self seems unfathomable to me. This is a discussion for another post but what I enjoyed most about the report was how it illustrates my point. Work life blur exists and so long as we are human it will continue to exist. It's up to us to learn how to manage it effectively.

What are your thoughts about work-life blur and the impact of web 2.0?

Lisa LaRue, DipCareerGuid, BSocSc(Couns), MCareerDev, CDAA, MICG is a Career Development Consultant & Work-Life Coach at CareerWorx Careers & Transitions and


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  2. Very Good Site and awesome writing too , and great thanks to the writer

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