Saturday, September 4, 2010

I have the right to blog in office time !

The blurring of lines between work life and personal life has been a profound change in the last 10 years. We may not have fully realized it as it’s a classic case of slow boiling of the frog. If anybody had presented to you what the demands of working life would be when you started your career, you would have recoiled with horror. But like the proverbial frog, we have all been slowly cooked to death.

E mail, and later Blackberry, have been the two largest causes of virtually eliminating the line between business time and personal time. I know of a senior guy who sets an alarm three times in the night to check his email. He may be an extreme case, but most of us are not very far away from there. Just look around when a plane lands and you’ll know what I mean. The office comes to us all the time. We can’t go to bed without it – the damn thing is under the pillow. We can’t even go to the loo without it. The day is not far off when we’ll be buried with it.

Imagine a business situation where you are at an important meeting. Perhaps with your Chairman. How would it look if you jumped out every five minutes because the Blackberry was pinging. Yet that’s precisely what we do when we are talking to our child every day. (Or girl friend, if you are Gils !) Business has completely taken over personal time.

The second major development that has contributed to it is the world going flat. Time zone differentials mean that conference calls are invariably at night if you are Asian, unearthly morning if you are American, graveyard shift if you are Australian and interrupting the fine wine at lunch if you are French ! That is after the normal slog of the 12 hour day or thereabouts (French excepted !).

A third development is the concept of working from home. Increasing numbers of people do it these days. That’s like opening the door to the wolf and willingly inviting him home. Or perhaps its just a realization that he is going to come in anyway; so why not invite him openly. Fair enough.

I am not haranguing against work life virtually taking over personal life. It has profound social consequences which will be apparent only after a generation. But it’s a free world – its your choice whether you want to do it or not. Make this choice consciously ; it does not make any sense to allow it to happen without a thought. After all, you can always chose to be a Prof !! (that's just to needle JS who seems to have vanished)

But this post, as the title suggests, is not about work life taking over personal life. Its about companies preventing personal stuff from coming in to the office. Like blocking Blogger and the like (for the sake of official record, let me state that the enlightened companies that I work with do not do that !!). Pray what is the difference between the infamous Net Nanny and this lot ?? I’ve heard the stale arguments – workers will only be browsing porn if there’s a free for all. I pay you to work; not to while away the time. The company faces legal liabilities if people use office computers to do irresponsible things. Blah Blah Blah. When you don’t blink an eyelid in encroaching on every available minute of personal time, why is it that personal stuff cannot encroach into the office ??

Sorry mate. Not acceptable. I demand the right to blog at office.