Mixing business and pleasure -- is it really possible?
Perhaps the better question is whether or not your work life and personal life should be fused at all.
In more than a decade of writing columns, no single opinion generated the sort of emotional response from readers as one I wrote in the mid-1990's in which I complained about how, in addition to making us more productive, technology was fuelling an unprecedented tethering to the workplace.
Almost unanimously, readers who responded to that column felt that the availability of certain technologies -- especially ones that can keep you in touch with work on a 24/7 basis -- were having a detrimental effect on their quality of life.
Certainly, leveraging technology has led to measurable productivity gains (which don't necessarily translate into competitive advantage or profits), but it has also led to a culture in which the lines between business and home life, and work and leisure, are blurring. For those who leverage technology the most, it's not just getting 12 hours of work done in eight hours, but major multitasking of work and home life 14 to 16 hours a day.
The list of technologies, products, and services that add up to a work-tethered personal life is too long to list but is well characterised by the nickname given to one of the trend's poster children: Research in Motion's BlackBerry. On more than one occasion while at RIM's last BlackBerry lovefest in New Orleans, I heard the small, highly addictive thumbboard-based wireless email devices referred as "Crackberries". With legitimate email and spam showing up almost around the clock, "users" can't put them down. The same goes for the maturing crop of smartphones from numerous vendors that combine the features of a phone, PDA and wireless communicator.
In many businesses, the availability of wireless, telecommuting, and virtual private networking (VPN) technologies -- although not explicitly set up keep people on their jobs 24/7 -- naturally provide a foundation for a 24/7 work culture. Many people lament this as an unfortunate evolutionary step of modern business. Others, who are so driven or motivated to succeed that the mixture of business and pleasure is not regarded as a sacrifice, embrace it. Think Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen in the movie Wall Street or the height of the dot-com boom.
For those who find their business and personal lives fusing, juggling the two is becoming increasingly more difficult, or easier depending on your point of view.