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Private and professional lives…is there still a difference?


Are your colleagues your close pals? Do you comment and ‘like’ each others’ Facebook photos without reservation?

If you do, it seems you’re not the only one. A recent survey from online jobs platform OneShift has some surprising statistics. Colleagues are connecting both online and offline outside of work, and our private and professional lives are becoming more intertwined than ever before.

Social media breaking down those cubicle walls

The nation-wide survey highlighted social media as a major factor, with 79 per cent of respondents stating they thought it was appropriate to be friends with their co-workers on Facebook and Instagram. Surprisingly, the majority (63 per cent) said this did not affect what they posted about or the photos they shared.

But our affection for our colleagues extends beyond social media: 64 per cent also stated that they socialise with their co-workers outside of work. In many instances, this affection was more than just platonic, with more than 40 per cent admitting to having dated a colleague.

The good thing is, it looks like those willing to get romantically involved were unlikely to be judged too harshly by their peers, with almost 80 per cent saying they wouldn’t feel uncomfortable if two of their colleagues were dating. Despite this, almost ten per cent kept a long relationship with a colleague secret.

Founder and CEO of OneShift, Gen George, said the strong relationships formed at work are an inevitable result of a new work culture that no longer recognises the separation of our work life from our private life, but that this shouldn’t be viewed negatively.

“We see it more with Gen Y workers, but in general we’re seeing a very obvious blending of professional and private life, colleagues and friends, the office and the home. Technology plays a big role in this.

As work extends into life, so do your colleagues

According to George, we really shouldn’t be surprised that lines between work and social relations are blurring, since we already bring work into our lives by responding to emails at night. Socialising with colleagues outside of work is becoming a more common and comfortable affair.

George said this move toward a more social workplace was something to be encouraged and a trend that is only going to become more and more obvious as we move toward more flexible hours.

“Work life balance is key, but that concept is taking on a new meaning today. It’s all part of the attitude of working to live, rather than living to work. You should love what you do, and enjoy the people you work with. Rather than aiming for that distinct separation of the two, we should be looking at how work fits into the rest of your life.

And one last insight that we find worthy to remind ourselves of?

“Your job should be challenging, but ideally it should enrich your life, not detract from it. The friendships you have with your colleagues are important not only to your own success, but to the success of the business and should be encouraged by employers,” he added.