Social networking blurs line between work/life balance

"Bleisure"... it's usually Americans who make up words, but I first spotted this word in British women's magazine Red, about the increasing blur between our professional lives and personal time.

“Bleisure”… it's usually Americans who make up words, but I first spotted this word in British women's magazine Red, about the increasing blur between our professional lives and personal time.  

The article refers to a technological revolution identified by Microsoft's Life Maximiser study in the United Kingdom.

Apparently, “78 percent of people think the regular nine-to-five job is a thing of the past, thanks to the advent of the BlackBerry and the wireless network. There is no more work/life balance so we must all give up chasing it. The new buzzword, as identified by trend forecasters The Future Laboratory, is ‘bleisure' – in other words, the blending of business time and leisure time and, so say Microsoft, 88 percent of us are happy with this new state of affairs.”

I'd venture to guess that many in our profession have never truly achieved a work/life balance, but I thought I could compartmentalize my online world by segregating business associates to LinkedIn, personal friends to Facebook, and tweeting only about business matters and items of interest. That lasted for a couple of months.   

What does it mean for our business? The social communities in which we initially engaged for friendly dialogue, to find long-lost business associates or friends, and as “communications experiments” now serve as the lifeblood for intelligence, ideas, and business exchanges.

Journalists rely on social networks and blogs, while my colleagues rely on their Facebook pages for sources, information, and stories. Influence is no longer top-down; it's shifting to bottom-up. Word-of-mouth isn't constricted to conversations but rather multiplied exponentially online. And the speed with which a crisis travels is dangerously immediate.

There's no escape now. I'm just glad for the handy devices that allow us to move around fairly freely within wireless zones so that we can multi-task between the blur of business and leisure.

MaryLee Sachs is the director of worldwide marketing communications for Hill & Knowlton and chairman of Hill & Knowlton US.

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