Spilling over or drowning into our work and social lives?

I have just read this article http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-57490619-93/facebook-drops-off-the-greatest-places-to-work-list/ which explains what the criteria for the Top Companies for Work Life Balance is.

“The goal of this listing was to look for companies that don’t keep their employees chained to their desks or laptops 24/7. Glassdoor sought workers who could balance their lives between work and personal life and whose employers offered benefits like flexible schedules, work from home options, free food, and a gym at work.”

I think that is contradictory to what we have just recently discussed in the seminar. Flexible schedules, working from home and leisure activities available at work places is exactly the idea of ‘spilling over’ and blurring the boundaries between work and every other aspect of life.

I have always assumed that having a good work-life balance meant keeping work and leisure separate, and doing work at the office, or at least minimising work having to be completed at home, and not having incentives such as free food and a gym at work to keep you there.

I guess with technology having increased this idea of presence bleeding and personal information spaces, the concept of work-life balance may be changing. Or is work-life balance a thing of the past for many people, especially employees of tech companies?

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12 thoughts on “Spilling over or drowning into our work and social lives?

  1. I 100% agree with you that in order to have a balance you have to keep work and leisure separate. I think the whole concept of being able to take work home with you- whether it’s checking emails, writing reports on your computer at home, etc, can be a big problem. Especially because the line between when you have to work and when you get time for yourself is blurred. Like Deuze said in his reading and Ted discussed in the seminar, there are many people who do work BEFORE they actually get to work in order to be prepared and ready- to work!
    ..
    In some industries, such as the media, gone are they days where you can spend the 8 or 9 (if not longer) hours in your workspace and go home and enjoy doing the things that interest you. Now instead, you can keep in the loop about what is going on in your place of employment- it’s basically like you’re still there.

    Thankfully I’m not in that kind of situation where I MUST keep up online, however, I’d really like to know what it feels like for those who need to check emails all the time in order to be “prepared”. I know lecturers must feel it, but I wonder what other businesses and professions require their employees to be logged on all the time?

    I think there is a fine line between flexible workplaces and ‘Function Creep’ (Gregg).

  2. The concept of personal imformation spaces frustrates me because it is happening much more due to “spilling over”. I can barely have a dinner conversation with my sister these days due to her constantly having to check her phone in case she received an email from work or as if it were about to ring.
    I too thought that having a good work life balance was leaving work at the office or doing minimal at home in order to allow for more leisure, but I suppose with today’s technology being able to access emails in the go and such, we don’t really have a choice but to accept the idea that our work life will eventually spill over into leisure and we will not really be able to “switch off” from work because work will be apart of our life always and “switching off” will not be possible.

    • So true. Personal information spaces are completely taking over face-to-face social interactions. And for a lot of people it’s not even about checking for work updates, it’s for online social communication.
      Eventually, it is going to be extremely hard to “switch off” for so many people. I think there will have to be a real conscious effort to do so.

  3. I agree with your points. I am not sure how I feel about workplaces that offer “more comfortable” working environments. I think it blurs peoples perception of work and pleasure time. Sure free food and couches sound great but I personally need to be stimulated by different environments to behave in a certain way. If my working environment was a couch with unlimited cupcakes and coffee I would feel more inclined to take a nap than get my work done. Not all career descriptions are the same and not pertained to the 9-5 working week and I think it goes beyond technology that peoples work emerges into their home life. However with the help of technology it has become more available and probably more demanded on employees to get things done because they have access to their work from their phones and homes computers.

    • Yeah, it really does blur the boundaries between work and pleasure time, and people’s perception of the two. I guess people will have to work out for themselves whether they are able to properly complete work in an environment where socialising and relaxing can be easily done.
      If I had the opportunity to work for a company that had offices like Google’s (http://www.google.com/about/company/facts/culture/), I think I would just accept that I may need to always be “switched on” (at least for a few years).

  4. Great post!

    The idea of creating a workplace that makes you feel “at home” is contrary to the notion of creating a good work-life balance. If you are working in a place that feels like you are at your house of residence, then it is going to make you feel like you should be working when you arrive at your actual house of residence! This is conceptualising the notion of ‘spilling over’.

    The paranoid side of me feels as if that the companies realise this when they create these more ‘home-like’ office spaces in order to make us work more often and further cement ourselves as slaves to their work! This is a scary thought, as soon we will just be living in a constant work space, even our bed could be in jeopardy!

    • Yeah, I agree with what you are saying about ‘spilling over’. When we get home we may feel like we haven’t completed much work at ‘work’ because of it feeling like such a comfortable and social place.
      Workplaces will have beds in them soon enough (although I am sure that many offices somewhere in the world already do!)

  5. I really like your approach about bleeding. I have really been struggling with a work/life balance personally and I think that it’s not about balancing them individually is about managing them like they are hand in hand. I essentially do what I can when I can to stay on top of it all. I find that if I neglect one they both suffer in the long run. I think businesses who encourage a work/life balance cannot really follow through unless it is built into their business culture and worked on long term and that’s why companies such as Google are so well known for their work/life balance, because it is a huge part of the corporate culture and vision.

  6. The incentives of free food and gym facilities as well as other forms like health care services, child care service, bonuses etc.. are a kind of bribery to make employees believe that their job fulfils not only their work life but also their personal life. It is a external motivation and ultimately does not equal to a personal life even if we need to eat and exercise. It is just the ideological view that we are getting things for “free” that attracts us to these incentives.

  7. It’s fascinating how the presence bleed we are now experiencing and encouraged to embrace is so different to what we have always preached: keep a balanced life with work and leisure separate, as you’ve noted, and don’t mix business with pleasure. Whilst I can certainly see why blurring the distinction between the two can produce many time and cost efficient opportunities, I think it’s important to always keep in mind what we can consider a healthy balance. If it’s beneficial to bring our work life into our leisure time then that’s definitely something we should take on. However, if by meshing the two we start to deprive ourselves of our true personal leisure time without realising it, such as when checking and responding to emails no longer seems work related, it’s something to start treating with concern.

  8. It’s interesting to see how much we integrate work and play. To me the line between work and play in DIGC202 is almost invisible, as we use social media.
    I think to work effectively, we need a distinction between the two, as technology almost makes us ‘available’ more than we want to be.

  9. Whilst I love the benefits that technology brings, the whole idea of a liquid life is not something that appeals to me in the slightest! Peoples work life and personal life should not mix. I spent a couple of months at home working my Dad and in the end i had to stop, as like you said my work life was ‘spilling over’ into my leisure time. Even though i was only required to work for 8 hours a day i found myself working for 10-12 hours as i found it hard to switch off, because my work life soon became my personal life aswell! I strongly believe that in order to function, people need to take time out from working and have some fun. Thus the fact that people are constantly connected and on call does without having time for leisure activities could possibly result in them resenting their jobs.

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