When our parents were in the workforce, the world was a completely different place. The only mainstream form of communication beyond face-to-face was your home telephone. Now, we’re able to access almost all parts of our life, not only from our personal computers, but our personal phones as well. Technology changes have also opened the door for some of today’s leisure activities to join us in the office, helping employees unwind without leaving their desks.
It’s how we stay in touch, catch up on celebrity gossip, discover old friends—even read the news. According to the Pew Research Center, 74 percent of Americans use social media, and these platforms are increasingly being used to maintain social connections both at home and at work.
Texting colleagues, clients, and vendors has become an efficient way to touch base quickly on work matters. And it’s no surprise that communicating with friends and family has become a normal part of many people’s work days, too. It’s a way to stay connected and decompress.
While perhaps not the most fun, advances in technology have made it easier for people to “run” errands without leaving their chair. If employees have downtime, they can pay their bills, go shopping for a new outfit, take a virtual tour of a gym they’re interested in—all from the office.
Working from Home
Remote workers have surged in recent years. With Skype, Google Plus, and other digital communications tools, it’s easy for employees to stay at home and still get all their work done. It’s also easier for them to mix work and play.
Working from home allows employees to make their own schedules, within reason. They can access their work from anywhere, anytime, providing more opportunities to incorporate some downtime in their day.
Is the Blur of Work and Play Okay?
All of this may seem like employees are wasting valuable work time, and in some serious cases, they are. In the samesalary.com survey, results showed that 61 percent of people admitted to spending 30 to 60 minutes on social media throughout the work day. However, this isn’t necessarily a cause for concern, unless they aren’t getting their work done, and here’s why.
Studies have shown that taking leisurely breaks at work allows for increased productivity and creativity, according to an article from the New York Times. Often times, without taking some time to unwind and refocus, employees can get burnt out and frustrated, which is counterproductive.
Additionally, Psychology Today reported that the average employee works 8.9 hours a day, which means many people work over the average eight-hour day to begin with and Good Technology found that 80 percent of employees keep working throughout the evening.
As long as work is being done—and done well—the intermingling of work and leisure may just be a new part of the digital workforce of today. Our advice to today’s employers? Embrace the changes, but be clear about expectations. Set fair boundaries and have visible policies so that the whole organization is on the same page.