In the modern age the line between work and home life is blurring. Social media is part of the reason that the barriers are being eroded. I tweet as myself and that includes the work me and the private me. There was an interesting discussion this week on #swchat about whether people should be available 24 hours a day for work queries and whether that level of demand makes you less productive.
I regularly find myself doing work at home and having conversations with the office at night and at weekends. The nature of the role is part of the reason that happens. Policing is a 24 hour business seven days a week and it is something you accept when you get involved with it. On a separate note, I am also a very lucky person and really enjoy the job that I do so it doesn’t feel like a hardship to have to do work.
The emergence of online and social media alongside 24 hour rolling news has made the communication arena a 24 hour place. It is something that anyone involved with PR has to accept. My view is that if you are really going to do the best for your business, organisation or company then you need to find a way to manage the impact on your life. That means accepting that you may need to be more available than the regular office hours, particularly if you are at a senior level. But it also means that employers need to be flexible in how they expect employees to work. It has got to be about what is done and achieved rather than the hours that are clocked up.
Many people believe the demands of modern life make people become unproductive. I understand this viewpoint but this can be handled with good management of downtime from work and investing in holidays. We all have to take control of our own physical and mental well-being and that means recognising when we need to take a break and rebalance our lives.
I have many conversations with communication professionals about how the workload is managed especially with the growth in social media. They are concerned about the impact if they start to use social media personally, and that it will take over their lives. However, this cannot be the major concern as there is always the demand of social media as part of the professional activity. Now more than ever people expect that there will be an almost instant response to queries to organisations and companies. There has to be a way to deal with this that goes beyond putting the shutters down at the end of the day. If you are going to provide comment and support any business then you need to be able to deal with this round-the-clock.
The world is changing and communication professionals have to change with it. For me this means accepting that you are not in a 9 to 5 job but a 24 hour communication business. The key is to set some parameters and just enjoy the opportunities that are presented by flexible working. After all who wanted to have a job that is regular, safe and predictable?