Monday, April 14, 2008

Work and Play?

It used to be that work and play had clear delineations, but not anymore, at least not for me, and I believe not for gen-Yers.

For example, while on a recent Seattle vacation, I (1) had lunch with a couple of CTO buddies (play), (2) visited my company's Seattle location (work) (3) afternoon visit with some in-laws (play). But interestingly the 2 play examples are somewhat work-related as we talked tech (my brother-in-law has a tech startup and I was a beta tester). Add to this the daily stream of emails, of which I responded to the all the simple or time-sensitive ones by days end.

Many companies have policies about what staff can do at work, but do they account for our work & play mix? For instance, wouldn't you rather allow an employee to get some of their personal life done at work (i.e. checking an eBay auction, buying movie tix) and then continue working at their desk rather than them going home? Seems like a no-brainer, yet many company's acceptable use policies say otherwise.

Facebook is a startling example of the mixture of play and work. Most of my facebook friends are business colleagues, we've friended each other to see what its like. But... do my work colleagues really want to know the details of what I did on the weekend? Its right there in my frequent facebook status updates. If I posted that I was sick or frustrated, are they obligated to come find me Monday to see how I am feeling?

This blog is another example. Blogging is not part of my CTO job, yet many of my staff and colleagues read my blog. Is it work or play? It certainly doesn't feel like work, and I do it for enjoyment and self-reflection. But vendors also read my blog to see my views on technology. Which is it?

Workplaces need to start thinking about the intersection of work and play, and how to accommodate employees in this new "always on" world. Google does, and I believe they see huge productivity gains because of it. But there are other simpler ways for companies to support their staff besides chefs and game rooms. First is to acknowledge that the line between work and play is blurry, and then see what happens...

No comments: