The Hipster Effect » Work/Life Separation Identity, society and work in the age of perpetual connectivity Tue, 26 Mar 2013 00:35:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Infographic: Life, meet work. Work, meet life. /2012/03/14/infographic-life-meet-work-work-meet-life/ /2012/03/14/infographic-life-meet-work-work-meet-life/#comments Wed, 14 Mar 2012 19:30:24 +0000 Sophy Bot /?p=611 more]]> Once upon a time, there used to be this handy-dandy wall separating our work lives from our private lives. These days, the separation isn’t so clear. The line between life and work has been steadily eroding for years, with our personal lives now following us into the office and our work lives barging into our private homes. Below is an exclusive infographic taken from my new book that gives some insight into just how much that wall has changed.



Check out The Hipster Effect book to find out more about what this all means and how we can best deal with the continuing erosion of the wall between life and work.

Infographic design by Made of People!


Data sources:

a. “Doing Business in Bed, When Sick & on Vacation.” Clean Cut Media. 23 Sept. 2010. Web. <>.

b, c. Fox, Zoe. “Shocker: Most Americans Check Work Email During Holidays.” Mashable Business. Mashable, Inc., 28 Nov. 2011. Web. <>.

d. Moore, Brian J. “Social Networking in the Workplace.” National Law Review. Dinsmore & Shohl LLP, 19 Oct. 2011. Web. <>.

e. “Gen Y Facebook Users Seen Mixing Business With Pleasure.” Marketing Charts. Watershed Publishing, 9 Jan. 2012. Web. <>.

f. Eler, Alicia. “91% Of Hiring Mangers [sic] Use Social Networking To Screen.”ReadWriteWeb. ReadWriteWeb, 5 Oct. 2011. Web. <>.

g. Rosen, Jeffrey. “The Web Means the End of Forgetting.” The New York Times. The New York Times Company, 21 July 2010. Web. <>.


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The rising freelance ethos /2011/11/04/the-rising-freelance-ethos/ /2011/11/04/the-rising-freelance-ethos/#comments Fri, 04 Nov 2011 02:56:10 +0000 Sophy Bot /?p=417 more]]> Clearance aisles don’t lie: standalone GPS units are on their way out. The same goes for MP3 players, consumer-level cameras, TVs and now even cars. Single function is passé. Multifunction is in.

As hardware technology matures, more and more functionality is being built into standard devices. Whether it’s in your pocket, your lap or your car, today’s devices are expected to perform a wide array of tasks previously reserved for single-function units. Long gone are the days when your phone was not also your calculator, your music player and your video camera. In today’s fast-paced world, we don’t want to switch devices every time we need to perform a new task. We just want to open a new program.

Offline, this trend has manifested itself as a growing interconnection between the different spheres of our lives. Facebook may be play and Outlook may be work, but when both can be accessed wherever you go using a single device, the two become harder to differentiate. And as a whole generation raised with a multifunction ethos is now attesting, the line between work and play is about to get a whole lot blurrier.

A recent report from Cisco shows just how dramatically workplace priorities are shifting to include the personal realm. 4 out of 5 college students want to choose which device they use for their jobs. 71% of students (and 68% of young employees) believe corporate devices should also be used for social media and personal use. In other words, the overwhelming majority of the next generation entering the workforce wants a custom device that can be used for both work and play. Nor do they think that work should be limited to the office – 3 out of 5 students think they have a right to work remotely with a flexible schedule. 7 out of 10 believe being in an office regularly is unnecessary. The message is clear: work is no longer a place you go. Work is a thing you do.

Just as our devices have grown to allow us to seamlessly switch between work and personal functions, so too have we shifted our concept of what each realm means. Work can be brought home, home can be brought to work, and the traditional notion of the workplace has been flipped on its head. While many have called it the rise of the freelance economy, the jobs themselves are not going to transform into project-based work overnight. What will transform is the traditional work ethic. Freelancers are accustomed to managing their own time and billing only those hours they spend working. As more employees start working remotely and spending more time in the office on personal tasks, the freelance ethos will continue its foray into the traditional workplace. Want to spend an hour playing around on Reddit? Go ahead, but don’t bill for it. Want to leave the office early and finish the project over the weekend? Go for it, just don’t miss the deadline.

With the blurring of the line between life and work has come an accompanying rise in the freelance mentality. If we expect to be free to work from home, we must prove that we are responsible enough to do so. Today’s students are already dealing with these issues and have developed the ability to manage their time efficiently. As they enter the workplace, they bring those same time management skills with them. Our devices have forced us to learn how to manage our own time on our own terms and the modern workplace is feeling the resulting shift in mindset. No, we’re not all going to suddenly become freelancers. But we sure are starting to think like them.

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What job? This here’s work. /2011/10/07/what-job-this-heres-work/ /2011/10/07/what-job-this-heres-work/#comments Fri, 07 Oct 2011 17:27:11 +0000 Sophy Bot /?p=224 more]]> Call it the death of the office, or the death of the job, or – if you’re more of an optimist – the rise of the internet workplace. Call it scary, call it wrong, call it different, but whatever you call it, take a good long look at it, because it may be the way things are headed.

A recent post on marketing expert Seth Godin’s blog points out that the post-Industrial Revolution era is coming to an end and with that comes the end of the factory worker/job stability mentality. Whereas before, in Godin’s words, “the inefficiency caused by geography… permitted local workers to earn a better wage,” nowadays people are coming together virtually, eliminating the previous location-centric job market. Customer service can be outsourced overseas. Development projects can go to the lowest bidder. Repetitive tasks can be automated, or else parceled out to faceless internet masses. Design can be crowdsourced. Problem-solving can be gamified. Even the employees who are left after everything else has been doled out can log on from home and do their work there. Punch cards need not apply.

The traditional office created by the industrial age required a 9-to-5 career mentality. Each person in the office had a job to do, a specialty to focus on, and a clear perch within the organizational hierarchy. The corporate ladder could bring you from intern to junior to senior to partner, all based on dedication and job longevity, and with no unexpected digressions into other specialties. You did as you were told, you worked your way up, and you didn’t overstep your boundaries. And then came the internet. As Godin points out:

“If the pressured middleman can find a cheaper source, she will. If the unaffiliated consumer can save a nickel by clicking over here or over there, then that’s what’s going to happen.”

The tumbling of geographic barriers has provided access to higher-quality work at a lower price, offering up enormous benefits to companies worldwide. Job longevity is no longer the deciding factor in finding the right leader for a given project. Even if Mr. Jones has been with the company for 30 years, if 25-year-old Johnny’s internet-submitted proposal undercuts the price and provides a greater scope, Mr. Jones may be out of the running. This has opened up a world of opportunity not only for the companies themselves, but for enterprising individuals as well. It’s no coincidence that the internet era has brought an unprecedented rise in freelancing and entrepreneurship. Whereas once you had to wade through many years of grunt work to be given the chance to manage an interesting project, now, just a few years of hard work can give you enough experience to apply for it directly.

At the heart of Godin’s post is a predicted shift: from jobs to projects. In his own words, “the future is about gigs and assets and art and an ever-shifting series of partnerships and projects.” The change will come as a rude shock to many and as a great boon to others. The more enterprising among us stand to benefit from the ability to pursue our goals without the need to spend years working our way up the corporate ladder. For others, their job security is suddenly called into question and the prospect of being replaced by a recent college graduate is no great thrill. Whatever the changes do bring, one thing is clear: ultimately, society can only benefit from having better work available at cheaper prices. There is a greater burden on individuals to produce higher quality work, but there is also greater opportunity to follow your own passions and to find work therein. As the nature of work continues to shift, don’t be surprised if one day somebody asks you, “Would you like to take this job?” and you find yourself responding, “I can’t. I’m too busy working.”


found via GigaOm

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Work at home, home at work /2011/09/30/work-at-home-home-at-work/ /2011/09/30/work-at-home-home-at-work/#comments Fri, 30 Sep 2011 18:36:17 +0000 Sophy Bot /?p=151 more]]> The first time I was ever given a corporate BlackBerry, I took it as a mark of pride. There I was, important enough to warrant being reached during my off-hours, and here was this shiny, function-filled device to supplement my own meager flip phone. Fast forward to today and I, like most, would turn down a work phone if presented with the offer. I’m used to my iPhone and want my work to complement, not overtake, the mobile experience, and I definitely don’t want to carry around two devices. A panel at GigaOm’s Mobilize conference this week pointed out that both companies and employees are benefiting from this recent change of heart – employees get to use their own devices and companies don’t have to pay for new ones.

On the other side of the mobile spectrum, recent data from Google Mobile shows that smartphones are being used throughout the day. And just what are they being used for? Well, considering that 350 million Facebook users typically access the site from their mobile devices, 26 photos are added to Instagram every second, and 103 million tweets are sent through these devices every day, chances are, our smartphone activity at work doesn’t always have to do with work. Curiously enough, while our smartphones help us keep up with our personal lives at work, they flip to the opposite function when we get home. A survey by Harris Interactive showed that 72% of people admit to checking work email during non-business hours, yet another sign that the line between life and work is becoming increasingly blurred.

These recent trends have at their heart a key fact of the internet experience: we want to be connected and stay in touch at all times in all places. While at work, our physical presence keeps us in touch with our colleagues, and we use our virtual presence on the internet to keep in touch with our friends and family. Outside of the office, our personal lives are at the physical forefront and we rely on the virtual to keep in touch with new developments at work. With both the workplace and our social connections becoming increasingly globalized, the stream of information never stops. It would be absurd to walk outside to check your mailbox at 3am, but check your email at that hour and you may find something from that business partner in Tokyo or from that friend that’s vacationing in Sydney. The clock never stops. The communication never stops. All that changes is where we’re physically located and who we can speak with face-to-face. Everybody else – be they our work colleagues at night or our friends during work hours – we now carry in our pockets.


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The internet we breathe /2011/09/21/the-internet-we-breathe/ /2011/09/21/the-internet-we-breathe/#comments Wed, 21 Sep 2011 20:36:44 +0000 Sophy Bot /?p=64 more]]> Early man might have had that whole fire thing going for him, but that’s nothing compared to our newest resource of choice: the internet. A new study released by Cisco found that 1 in 3 college students and employees ranks the internet as a fundamental resource for the human race – right up there with air, water, food and shelter. More than half of those surveyed said they could not live without the internet, and 2 in 3 respondents said, if forced to make a choice, they would choose the internet over having a car. The message is clear: life without the internet is no longer a viable option.

Another interesting finding of the study illustrates how the shaky divide between life and work is tumbling down. Fully 7 in 10 employees said they “friended” their managers and/or coworkers on Facebook. With nearly 9 in 10 employees globally maintaining an active Facebook account, statistics are proving what common sense has been pointing to for years: there’s no denying that our social lives and our business lives are increasingly tied together. To top it all off, smartphone penetration continues to increase, with more than half of employees surveyed calling their mobile device “the most important technology in their lives.” So not only do we friend our bosses, we take them with us everywhere we go, and 33% of us consider the ability to do so as important as breathing and eating. More statistics after the jump.

via GigaOm

Photo credit: Alex E. Proimos


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Remembering downtime /2011/09/21/remembering-downtime/ /2011/09/21/remembering-downtime/#comments Wed, 21 Sep 2011 18:09:39 +0000 Sophy Bot /?p=56 more]]> It’s no secret that technology is everywhere. Touchscreen this, automated that, internet-connected those; in the modern world, there’s just no running away from our electronic counterparts. This we do not seem to mind. The part that gives us trouble is the fact that technology is every-when.

According to a recent report from iPass, 35% of mobile workers check their email first thing in the morning, with most others checking in throughout their morning routine. By the time they actually begin the day’s work, a full 83.5% of mobile workers have already logged into their email accounts. Half of all employed email users check their work mail on the weekends, according to another report from Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life project. Yet another report by Nielsen reveals that Americans spend 23% of their time online using social networks, most of that time occurring in the evenings after work. At a time when most of us keep our smartphones within arm’s reach of where we sleep, is there any hope for recouping some of our long-forgotten downtime?


Social Thermostat by Hugo Eccles


This is where Designer Hugo Eccles comes in. Unveiled this week during a group show at this week’s London Design Festival, Eccles has created several devices whose sole purpose is to “jam the communication channels.” Whether cutting off all forms of technology completely, blocking workers from accessing social networks during the day, or turning the bedroom into a no-social-network zone, these Slow Tech devices are aimed at bringing downtime back into our daily lives. Details and photos after the jump.

via Cool Hunting

Statistics via Marketing Charts and Mashable
Social Thermostat photo credit: Cool Hunting
Additional photo credit: GS+


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Sorry, I was (tweeting) drunk /2011/09/21/sorry-i-was-tweeting-drunk/ /2011/09/21/sorry-i-was-tweeting-drunk/#comments Wed, 21 Sep 2011 16:53:51 +0000 Sophy Bot /?p=49 more]]> Come on, admit it, you’ve done it too: you’ve sent out an update to your social networks while under the influence. Now that we all have laptops and carry around perpetually connected smartphones in our pockets, downtime is practically a thing of the past. We update our Facebook status while waiting in line, check on our Google+ feeds at the doctor’s office, and – oftentimes – we send out a tweet from the bar. But, as Alex Wilhelm asks in a new post on The Next Web, is drunken tweeting always such a bad thing?

Context is, of course, key. As graduate student Stacy Snyder learned a few years back, a seemingly innocent joke about drunkenness can carry some serious consequences. Snyder was denied graduation from Millersville University after a photo was discovered under her MySpace profile titled “Drunken Pirate,” in which she was pictured wearing a pirate hat and drinking from a plastic cup. So at what point in our online drunkenness do we cross the line?

As technology has become increasingly ubiquitous, the old lines separating life from work have become increasingly blurred. A seemingly innocuous photo taken in a social setting is examined through a different lens when it makes its way into academia or the business world. Likewise, a silly drunken tweet that amuses one group of followers is just as likely to be wholly inappropriate to another. Unfortunately, we often have no way of knowing where those lines are drawn and at what point we cross them. When our bosses are easily able to view our social indiscretions, who bears the burden of responsibility – is it up to us to be more careful, or is it up to them to be more realistic about what goes on in our downtime? The reasonable approach would be to do both.

Take, for instance, my own personal twitter feed, sprinkled liberally with curses, euphemisms and dirty jokes. My tweets on that account are directed towards a certain type of follower – essentially, towards a certain kind of person who enjoys a certain type of inappropriate joke. One day, during a 6-month stint in Portugal, I tweeted this:

It would take two months for me to learn that my mom does, in fact, read that twitter feed. Thankfully, she knows her daughter’s sense of humor and was not offended. But again, it begs the question: where are the boundaries between the parts of our life that are personal, and the parts of our lives that are exposed to our family and business colleagues? And better yet: do those boundaries even exist anymore? Perhaps it’s time we take a better look at ourselves and realize that we are complex beings, capable of posting drunken tweets at night and articulate posts in the morning. The old boundaries aren’t coming back. Maybe it’s time we stop pretending that we are one-dimensional beings and allow for the occasional indiscretion. As Wilhelm points out in his post:

“You have to ask yourself what the cost is for appearing a bit unprofessional when three winds into the blanket (close enough). Do people look down on the fact that you just tweeted that your friend ducked outside to be sick, but came back and tried to play it cool? And that you then bought him a beer? And if your personal failings become more public due to liquid-induced verbosity and functional 3G coverage, is that such a bad thing? I don’t think so, but I’m not exactly ready to invite Twitter back into my (usually not alcohol-centered) social life.”

Photo credit: palindrome6996


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