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The Always-On Worker: Good or Bad Development?

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Reading Ryan Faas' great post today about a new digital divide between mobile-friendly jobs and work-in-the-office positions, I am wondering about the new skill many of us now take for granted: The ability to rapidly switch between work and personal life, enabled by mobile devices.

I'm not quite sure yet whether this development is more good than bad. It'd be easy to take an extreme position either way just for argument's sake, but I'd rather see an earnest discussion about more of the benefits and drawbacks of a highly mobile workstyle. I know there are times I'm thankful for the ability to complete a task or conduct a business communication no matter where I'm at. I am often just simply amazed by how far we've come in such a short amount of time. I can still remember text messages being new and cool, and I'm not that old.

Many companies, especially in communications-related businesses, are taking maximum advantage of mobility, even to the point of completely eliminating "offices" in favor of highly distributed workforces who get things done wherever they are. There are enormous cost savings for not having to provide a cubicle or a central office, but I sometimes wonder what we are losing in terms of building teams with a shared passion for their work. I am guessing that void is the thing that pushed Yahoo's Marissa Mayer in the extreme direction of eliminating work from home options at Yahoo. It will be interesting to see how well her edicts work down the line.

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