Work at Play; Play at Work

By Samuel Greengard Print this article Print
work-life balance

Almost every professional now takes work home and fields emails and calls after hours and while on vacation. So, it makes perfect sense to bring home to work.

It's ironic that at a time when workers say they feel greater pressure to do more with less time and fewer resources, there's also evidence that people are increasingly engaged in non-work activities while in the office. A new study, conducted by Georgetown Institute for Consumer Research and sponsored by consulting firm KPMG, found that there's a considerable amount of slacking going on, especially among Millennials.

Among other things, the poll found that Millennials spend as much as 26 percent of their workday surfing the Web for fun. Among older workers, the figure was a still notable 15 percent. Goof-off activities include Googling something non-work related; reading the news online; checking personal social media accounts; watching a video for entertainment; instant messaging family and friends; responding to personal emails; shopping online; and checking dating Websites.

For years, many employers have looked the other way about reasonable use of the Internet for personal reasons. Some have taken the opposite approach and imposed Draconian blocking measures, which typically make things worse. Today, with BYOD (bring your own device), it's harder than ever to prevent an employee from browsing or posting when and where he or she desires. It's their phone, after all!

I'm guessing that among business and IT leaders, the knee-jerk reaction to this research is that something is terribly wrong with the modern enterprise and employees. Tsk. Tsk. Tsk. Today's workers are so darn lazy!

Actually, this behavior is perfectly reasonable, and I'd argue there's absolutely no reason to be alarmed. For one thing, it's glaringly apparent that the line between work and personal life has blurred over the last decade. Almost every professional now takes work home and fields emails and calls after hours and while on vacation. So, why not bring "home" to work? It makes perfect sense.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, if an organization has the right performance metrics and assessment systems in place, it's fairly easy to gauge employee performance. It's simple: Either workers meet expectations and perform their duties at a certain standard, or they do not.

For the most part, who cares when and how employees work—as long as they do their work and do it well? It's certainly not the command-and-control autocratic empire your grandfather knew. It's the digital age, and if you want to build a digital enterprise, you have to think and act like one.

This article was originally published on 2014-02-12

Samuel Greengard is a contributing writer for Baseline.

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