The merged lifestyle: What does it mean for work-life balance?
Reliable internet in and outside the office can mean a blurred line between public and private life for many. What does this mean for our work/life balance and how can we benefit?
There is no doubt the Internet has shifted our lifestyles dramatically. Our always-on lifestyle can mean the boundaries that once existed between work, life and everything in-between are slipping away. The 2012 Australian Work and Life Index, completed by the Centre for Work and Life at The University of South Australia, found that over 44% of workers now complete some form of work from home, whether regularly or not. While our world is shrinking, it is worth looking at the effects this brings to our hope of attaining that ever-elusive work/life balance.
Wait no more
The elimination of the physical boundaries which once defined workplaces has led to the perceived expectation that employees should be across all projects at all times.
For many, this means typical workday hours have been blurred and it moves at a more rapid pace. With instant responses the new norm, the modern decision cycle has eliminated the waiting period for responses from the office the following day.
Make technology work for you, from home
This merged lifestyle also brings with it a degree of expediency.
Whilst working hours have stepped into the home, the home has also occupied work time.
More efficient communication and reliable connectivity at home has allowed executives – who were once tethered to their offices until all hours of the night – to leave by 6pm and have dinner with their families and put the kids to bed. One could argue that later hours working at home is certainly a price worth paying for evenings spent with the people we love.
Work, rest, play
Likewise, the benefits of the ultra connected lifestyle extend to those with additional academic or sporting commitments. With access to dependable broadband outside the office providing the opportunity to adopt a flexible working lifestyle, many employees are able to duck out of the office to attend lectures or training sessions, before completing work duties later in the evening.
The mix of professional and domestic life that comes with our permanently switched-on society brings with it an assortment of issues, both positive and negative, which we must be conscious of managing as we go about out day-to-day activities. There is no doubt that, while some may resent this fusion of work and play, it also allows us the flexibility to achieve our desired lifestyles.