Separation of Work and Play

After playing around with Google+ for a bit, the feature I like best so far is the circles. I was always really annoyed with the clunkiness of Facebook which put you in the uncomfortable situation of having to accept every person you knew who asked to be your friend – or risk insulting them by giving them access to a limited profile – or worst of all ignoring their friend request indefinitely. With Google+ you can link up with everyone you know, but in an appropriate way, where your boss doesn’t need to see your photos from the weekend and your friends don’t need to be spammed with your work-heavy geeky Twitter feed.

But as much as I like to keep my professional and personal circles separate, I think we’re living in a world where the intersection between all of these social groups is becoming inevitable. How we work is changing. How we hire is changing. And all of this is blurring the lines between our professional and personal lives.

To be fair, who you know, has always been more important than what you know – but that is amplified in a world where we are frequently changing companies and roles.

Our career pathways are becoming much less linear than they traditionally have been. It’s not a new thing for people to seek a job which they find meaningful and fulfilling – but what is new, is the greater ease and acceptability of career change. It’s become much more common to change direction, sometimes several times, in order to pursue this ambition of finding the right job.

In addition, lateral moves into related industries are much more frequent because of the needs of our 21st century economy. Children in schools today are being educated for jobs which do not exist yet; modern employers are seeking workers with a much more flexible skill set – which means hiring from outside of the current industry employment pool.

And what all this mobility means, is that people who are in our “friend” circles today, could easily be in a “colleague” circle tomorrow.

We’re also seeing a rise in freelance and contract work. Many more professionals are choosing to become self-employed, to regain control over their own work-lives and reap the rewards of their abilities directly. In the freelance world, your reputation and your network are your livelihood. It’s much harder to compartmentalise your personal self and work self. And more often than not, it’s those personal relationships that lead to your next project.

I believe that in the same way that the barriers between businesses and their customers have come crashing down, this age of transparency is having same impact on our own lives.

As social media plays a greater role in recruitment, as our reputation and influence is increasingly quantifiable, and as our careers take us into contact with greater numbers of people from different spheres – our personal and professional lives will overlap even more.

And the separation of work and play, like privacy or copyright – might become a quaint little concept from yesteryear.

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