Are flexible work hours, wireless data cards and smartphones blurring the line between work and home? Are more professionals finding it harder to switch off from work thanks to the new work culture? Tell us!
According to new research out of the University of Toronto, people who have flexible work hours are reporting more blurring of the boundaries between work and the other parts of their lives, especially family-related roles.
Sociology professor Scott Schieman and PhD student Marisa Young asked study participants, "Who usually decides when you start and finish work each day at your main job? Is it someone else, or can you decide within certain limits, or are you entirely free to decide when you start and finish work?"
"We wondered about the potential stress of schedule control for the work-family interface. What happens if schedule control blurs the boundaries between these key social roles?" asked Schieman.
The authors describe two core findings:
People with more schedule control are more likely to work at home and engage in work-family multitasking activities; that is, they try to work on job- and home-related tasks at the same time while they are at home.
In turn, people who report more work-family role blurring also tend to report higher levels of work-family conflict -- a major source of stress.
According to Schieman, discovering the conditions that predict work-family conflict is critical because "a substantial body of social scientific evidence demonstrates its link to poorer physical and mental health outcomes."
"People who had partial or full schedule control were able to engage in work-family multitasking activities with fewer negative consequences in terms of conflict between their work and family roles. Overall, our findings contribute to an ongoing -- and complicated -- debate about the costs and benefits of different forms of flexibility for workers," he added.
As India's offices open up to flexible work hours and remote access to the workplace, our work culture is going through a revolution of sorts. The days when you could switch off the PC at the stroke of 5 and focus on a relaxing evening with family and friends are long gone. And working overtime has taken on a whole new meaning.
It is the age of data cards and plug-and-play internet connections. Smartphones that let you check e-mail, schedule appointments, even create presentations. Time and location have become virtually irrelevant as everything is now at our fingertips.
All these changes might be convenient, yes. But are they really working in our favour? Do we forget to switch off from work even when we are home, or on vacation thanks to technology and a work culture that demands we repond to business needs ASAP?
Has the change in work culture affected your professional and personal life? Have the leaps in technology helped you strike a balance between work and home? Or is the boundary between your work-life and personal-life blurred?
Tell us how you are coping with the new work culture. Why you love it and why you don't. How you manage to draw the line between work and home. Write in to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject 'The new work culture' and we'll publish the responses we receive right here on Rediff.com!
Illustration: Dominic Xavier/Rediff.com