Gyro:HSR (my former employer) created a video to kick off their study of consumers experiencing the impact of technology as it eliminates the 9-5(ish) walls around their professional lives.

“I’m in @work State of Mind” 
With apologies to Mr. Joel, I think this trend has been brewing since 1997 when Daniel Pink chronicled “Free Agent Nation” in Fast Company magazine. The free agent workforce altered the conventional workplace.

In addition to changing roles, management styles are also changing and employees are responding more positively to intrinsic rewards than the traditional, extrinsic reward model. This topic is covered in Drive, once again by Daniel Pink.

Time Shifting 2.0?
The video above suggests that “despite all our rage we’re still just rat’s in a cage” — or perhaps a wifi tether. Instead of having more leisure time, the technology is creating more work for consumers.

But I think there are exceptions to this rule. Some consumers, including many profiled in “Free Agent Nation” and Drive, choose the ability to dive in and out of work as warranted. In return, these consumers have the flexibility in when and where they work. It’s a form of time shifting for corporate America. The work simply is no longer kept to a day tight compartment.

I’m not being naive when I use the term 9 to 5 and day tight compartment. But I do think work was already spilling outside of those boundaries before my iPhone brought it to me via its Retina display. 

This is an important distinction. As screenagers get older, an @work state of mind will become a seamless part of the multiscreen experience they’re becoming known for now. And there will be give and take so they won’t feel like work is increasing at the expense of leisure.

Social Media: It’s Messy
This @work state of mind is definitely another facet of the “social media is messy” discussion. Facebook alone is forcing the separation of work and play issue as many consumers see their professional and personal lives overlapping online — at many levels. Part of that is a privacy discussion perhaps. But it’s interesting from a “business anthropology” standpoint.

As GyroHSR’s Segal notes, the technology is definitely a primary driver. “The proliferation of network communications and hand-held devices has turned work from a place into a state of mind.” It’s another
consideration brands must take when engaging with brand participants.

In fact, 2011 will be one big year of convergence. MUCH more on that in my next post. :-)

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