We've talked for years about the blurring of the "work-life" balance thanks to our always connected world. These days, it's not uncommon for people to do some "life" aspects at work (online shopping, banking, etc.) while also doing plenty of "work" things while at home (checking email, creating presentations, etc.). While there are still occasional stories (almost always put forth by companies selling filters) about the "evils" of workers doing personal things on work time, enough studies have shown that people more than make up
for such uses by working from home or being more productive
when they actually work.
But there are other issues beyond just the productivity question when professional and personal "selves" begin to blend. I've definitely noticed this on things like Twitter, where some people use their Twitter accounts for personal things, others for work things -- and many for both. Some companies have rules about that kind of thing, though it leads to awkward declarations, such as telling employees they can only use their Twitter accounts for work
related issues. But that takes away much of the power of Twitter, which gives people -- even in work settings -- a chance to better connect with others.
And, one of these days, you just know there's going to be some sort of legal fight over who actually "owns" a Twitter account: the employee who uses it... or the employer. In cases where an employee builds up a huge following, and tweets mostly about work, sooner or later some company will claim to own that profile (especially if the employee tries to leave).
But, this blurring of work and life boundaries can create other issues as well. Andrew F
alerts us to a story which he calls (and I agree) a "little inane," concerning the fact that White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs is upsetting some because he tweeted about his local bike shop
. In this case, Gibbs did a "#FF" tweet, which is a pretty common usage of Twitter, where, on Friday's you do a "Friday Follow" (#FF) tweet that highlights someone else on Twitter that your own followers might be interested in following. It's sort of a neighborly use of Twitter. So Gibbs did exactly what millions of people on Twitter do and gave a shout out
to his local bike store:
#FF @CraigatFEMA so you know the latest @RevCycles a great bike store & special thanks to Ken and others there for helping me with my bike
Perfectly normal, and another example of Twitter being used to make famous people more human, right? Well, except in the politicized world of Washington D.C., where suddenly there's concern that what if this is an "official White House endorsement" and an "abuse of power."
And suddenly we're back to the whole blurry border of work and life. The tweet was quite clearly a personal tweet, but with the blurring borders and questions about whether or not any random statement a person makes is now in "an official capacity" or just as a personal statement. The nice
thing about Twitter is that it's quite conversational, so people say things as if they're just talking to friends they ran into on the street. But the difference is that it's also broadcast and recorded for everyone.
I think it's pretty ridiculous to worry too much about the White House press secretary expressing his happiness with the local bike shop that fixed his bike, but it might be a precursor to other issues that are definitely going to come up with services like Twitter as people begin to recognize the new and changing boundaries between their personal lives and their work lives.