Magazine article Marketing

The Essay

Magazine article Marketing

The Essay

Article excerpt

Smart marketers are paying attention to the new 'third space' between work and play, writes Alex Hesz.

We all know the drill. The buzz of the phone on the bedside table. The Sunday conference call. The 'I've-got-to-send-a-quick-email' holiday Sure, it's 7.30pm on Friday, but not in California, it's not. Somewhere, someone is at the office, and they have something terribly important to tell you. Right now.

The traditional lines between work and life have been blurred. The idea of checking out and 'powering down' is no longer viable for many of us Constant connection to our clients, colleagues and work means office environments and working hours have become a fraction of what we call work.

This is not news - it's seen as a cause of our diminishing home lives. We're worse off for it. Worse parents, husbands and wives. Worse people.

There is another theory: this phenomenon has led to a new state - a third state - where we are always a bit at work, always a bit not at work.

The major factor, of course, is technology. Devices, applications and processes have transformed our access to one another, and the way we work.

The presumption in discussions about work-life balance is that this has been a one-way street; these devices and applications have simply bled work into life, diminishing the latter and letting the former grow dominant. I'm not sure that's true.

The OECD has found that nations in which people work the fewest average hours (Turkey, Mexico, Korea, Chile) also have the poorest work-life balance. Working more hours doesn't equal a poor work-life balance. The number of hours devoted to leisure ('socialising with friends/family, hobbies, games') has no correlation with the time devoted to work.

Something is happening to the way we work and socialise, allowing us to do these things simultaneously. Sure, there are times where we are only at work or at leisure, but so many of us often find ourselves in situations that cannot reasonably be described as 100% either. Imagining work intruding on home is very easy. What we ignore is the opposite. There are enormous benefits to work feeling less like work, to life intruding.

Working hours were not a critical consideration in The Sunday Times' 100 Best Companies to Work For rankings. …

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