iThink | How tech, social media blur lines between work and personal life

You can liken it to a romantic relationship. For most people, it begins with friendship. Then at some point, the relationship blurs between friendship and romance. Soon you become a couple, and the lines are forever blurred because you become friends and romantic partners at the same time.

I’m not saying this because Valentine’s Day just ended, but because blurred lines are common in most things. One of those blurring lines that affect all of us relates to technology and social media.

It used to be that work is confined to the four walls of the office. You work for eight hours and then you’re done for the day. That’s your work life. You then go home to live what you call your personal life, which is completely distinct and separate from work.

That’s no longer the case today. With smartphones, tablets, and other gadgets, you can potentially be working 24/7. In one sense, it can be good because you achieve efficiency that was not possible before. Social media is excellent in helping you connect with people in an engaging and efficient way, too.

The convergence of work and personal life has pros and cons, but I’ll talk about it some other time. But for now, it’s safe to say that the term work life balance has evolved into work life integration.

All this, however, can also lead to stress. Social media, in particular, has sown “evils” that have wreaked havoc on the lives of some people. But is it the fault of social media? Maybe not. It’s not much about a problem with social media, but about how we manage stress in this age of social media. The stress has been there since the first humans roamed the earth.

We used technology to deal with this stress, like when humans invented fire and hunting tools. But “new kinds of stress” show up along with new technology, such as social media.

For businesses today, social media has become an important communication and marketing tool. Successful marketing and communication campaigns have led to revenues and profits, and a much enhanced brand and corporate reputation.

Employees have made good use of social media, too. However, some have used it to rant and rave about things that they wouldn’t normally talk about in public. While they have the right to free expression, the exercise of that right can affect the reputation of their respective companies or organizations.

Imagine an employee viciously attacking the product of a competitor, or high-ranking executive insulting or besmirching the reputation of a government official on social media.

While we can’t prevent employees from saying what they think or feel on social media, it is clear that there ought to be some limits, or guidelines that should govern their actions to protect their employers.

The most important social media guideline for me applies in real life also – make sure to use your Common Sense. Next time you go online, think before you post – it might save you a whole lot of trouble in this increasingly interconnected and integrated world we now live in.

The author is the head of corporate affairs and communications at BPI

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