Saturday, 17 December 2011

Mixing work and leisure

Last week, at a conference, I returned to my hotel room after dinner. I did not want to do any more work that evening, so I turned on the TV. But the trash was too trashy, even for winding down at the end of the day. The most viable alternative source of entertainment was my computer. And yet I had been using that for “work” all day. Yet again, it was doubling up as a leisure device, and the boundary between work and play felt violated. In this case, it simply made leisure feel slightly less leisurely, but the opposite is also happening: not only is work encroaching on leisure, but leisure is increasingly encroaching on work. In most settings, the main effect is on productivity (and possibly enjoyment at work!), but in safety-critical settings the distractions from mixing work and leisure activities are potentially dangerous. A recent article from the New York Times , describing the growing use of gadgets in hospitals, brings this into focus.

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