Where Does Work End and Home Life Begin?

Where Does Work End and Home Life Begin?

Zane L. Berge (University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), USA), Cassie Bichy (University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), USA), Candice Grayson (Greater Baltimore Medical Center, USA), Anthony Johnson (University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), USA) and Stephen Macadoff (Community College of Baltimore County, USA)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 7
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-198-8.ch348
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Abstract

Many years ago, it was a commonly held belief that technology would improve industries and service professions, which means that people could work shorter hours and their employers would make just as much money. Essentially, this is the central myth of modern capitalism. Modern technologies are the shackles that bind today’s employees to their jobs long after they get home from work. Beginning in the 1990s, technology made working from home possible for a growing number of people. At first this was perceived as the era of great things to come. At home, many people had personal computers connected to their corporate network. It quickly became clear that telecommuting and the rapidly proliferating “electronic leash” of cell phones made work inescapable in the 24/7, on-demand work accessibility (Curry, 2003).
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Introduction

Many years ago, it was a commonly held belief that technology would improve industries and service professions, which means that people could work shorter hours and their employers would make just as much money. Essentially, this is the central myth of modern capitalism. Modern technologies are the shackles that bind today’s employees to their jobs long after they get home from work. Beginning in the 1990s, technology made working from home possible for a growing number of people. At first this was perceived as the era of great things to come. At home, many people had personal computers connected to their corporate network. It quickly became clear that telecommuting and the rapidly proliferating “electronic leash” of cell phones made work inescapable in the 24/7, on-demand work accessibility (Curry, 2003).

Today, according to the Families and Work Institute, almost half of America’s workforce is using computers, fax machines, e-mail, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and mobile phones during what is supposed to be non-work time (Galinsky, Kim, S.S. & Bond, 2001). Stress is often the result of management’s demand on employees to be at their fingertips 24/7. Rapidly sinking under the weight of being connected, people are dealing with increasing family problems because of the blurring line between home and work. When workers are not at home or work, it is not hard to find people working: now armed with their trusty laptops, cell phones, pagers, and PDAs. Even in places of leisure, like bookstores, cafes, and neighborhood stores, Internet availability is easily accessible. Technology has made the world into a connected, global community. In a perfect world, this community is an ideal. But we are in the real world, and technology may be a nuisance that is not easily escaped.

This article addresses the following issues relating to where work ends and home life begins, that is, the work/home life-balance: (1) how increased work demands and job learning expectations in today’s 24/7 economy create situations where employees’ quality of work, personal and family relations, and health are seriously threatened, (2) how the increasing use of technology is infringing on the personal and family time of employees, (3) why continuing education is presented to employees, and, (4) how corporations respond to their employees’ needs. Increased work demands and job learning expectations in today’s 24/7 economy create situations where employees’ work, personal and family relations, and health are seriously threatened. Former American Labor Secretary Robert Reich stated “. . . the new economy is relentless. It is changing the norm, it is changing values, changing our culture. It is putting enormous pressure on people to work, and to make work the center of their lives” (Smith, 2003, p. 1). Considering these pressures, some people find themselves challenged to find a workable balance between organizational, employee, and family needs (Tayika, Archbold, & Berge, 2005).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Lifelong Learning: Usually, this term is applied to learning that takes place by adults in the workplace, or to the learning that adults may wish to undertake to enrich their own lives

Employee Wellness Program: An employee wellness program has, as a main goal, the promotion of health and wellness among the employees of the enterprise. The programs often encourage awareness of health-related issues, improve morale, and times many times strive to reduce cost of healthcare throughout the corporation

Globalization: Globalization refers to the phenomenon of making any product or service global, as opposed to marketing in a single local, regional, or national market

Work/Home Life-Balance: Work/life balance means putting in place working arrangements and policies that assist workers in combining employment with other responsibilities and choices. They also benefit employers by helping them to develop a more productive and committed workforce (Drew, Humphreys, & Murphy, 2003)

Telecommuting: Work from satellite offices or at home using a computer and related equipment that links the telecommuter to the employer’s main office

24/7 Economy: The reality that for an organization to be competitive, individual employees must continually perform

Corporate Universities: A corporate university, either physical or virtual, is formed mainly to relate its training, development, and education strategies to its business strategy. The corporation is concerned that about coordinating and integrating intellectual capital and talent management within the enterprise

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