Technology blurs boundaries between work and home for ‘Generation Standby’

The crossover between work and home has never been more evident, with employees using technology to blur the boundaries between their careers and personal lives, according to a new report.

The Web 2.0 in the Workplace report, from software security company Clearswift, identifies a new generation of employees who never switch off from either home or work, and who demand greater flexibility from employers in return for working longer hours, dubbing them “Generation Standby” (socially and technologically never disconnected).

The report is based on a survey of 400 interviews with office workers and managers, which found that 56% of employees believe they have to work harder this year than last year, and 44% have to work longer hours. As a result, many are regularly carrying out social and private tasks at work, to the extent that one in five people would turn down a job offer that did not allow them to access social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook or personal e-mail at work.

The trend is most pronounced among 25 to 34-year-olds, with 57% carrying out personal tasks such as checking social networks, e-mail and online shopping at work. Two-thirds said they make up the time they spend using the internet for personal reasons by working later or through lunch.

Most employers no longer see these demands as unreasonable, with more than half of the managers agreeing that employees should be able to access the internet and social networking content from their work computer for personal reasons, and 60% trusting their staff to use the internet and social networking sites responsibly.

Hilary Backwell, global HR director at Clearswift, said: “Employees are now enjoying, and expecting, greater levels of flexibility and mobility than ever before, but this cultural shift raises new questions about trust in the workplace, the use of new technologies, the balance of power in the employer vs. employee relationship, and levels of control that businesses now have over people and content.”

For a series of articles on how the growth of social media is affecting HR departments, check out Personnel Today’s Social Media Week coverage.

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