New technologies (broadband at home, wifi in cafés and hotels) let you keep in touch with the office 24/7, they allegedly increase productivity, enhance responsiveness and allow for working flexibility. But employees are now calling for a new etiquette as their boss, colleagues and themselves have difficulties to draw the line between work and their right to private (aka “disconnected”) life.
Microsoft UK even had to issue guidance to inform their staff when they can/should keep in touch or “get a life”.
But the future of working conditions as it is forcasted by specialists (see “Sneak Peeks at Tomorrow’s Office” and “A Post-Privacy Future for Workers“) will not necessarily improve the picture. Some of the great progresses (displays that wraps around you to show many documents at once, desk chairs that sense when you are stressed, software that enables e-mails and voice messages to be dispatched at whatever pc or handheld you are closest to) are sold as ideas that simplify working days but they just head in one direction: raising employees’ productivity.
Besides, home and office will be increasingly linked as your company will watch over your personal and physical needs to boost your productivity. For example, your vital signs will be calculated at work. If you have high cholesterol and a fat-laden diet, you might get prescription menus… to be delivered to your home fridge.
The convenience of these new technologies and services might far outweigh the potential loss of privacy, but will the long-term prove that we are choosing the right path?