Study: Boundaries Between Work, Home Disappearing

"There are no boundaries between work and leisure. It's now just life," writes gyro CEO and Chief Creative Officer Christoph Becker in the foreword to a new study, published today by Forbes Insights, the strategic research practice of Forbes Media, publisher of Forbes magazine and Forbes.com. Titled "The @Work State of Mind Project," the study — conducted for Forbes by gyro, an advertising agency — explores the motivations and work habits of 543 executives at top companies and finds that workplace boundaries have been eliminated to the mutual benefit of people's work and personal lives. As a result, it concludes: Companies must fundamentally change the way they market to senior decision makers.

"Nine-to-five thinking is a thing of the past, and this must be reflected in how brands advertise with their customers and clients," Becker said. "Things have moved on, and so should old attitudes to advertising."

Added Bruce H. Rogers, chief insights officer for Forbes Media, "We all know technology has expanded our connection to work. But only now do we have research into the attitudes and habits of senior business people on how an always-on world impacts business decisions."

According to gyro's research, 98 percent of executives send work-related emails outside of the typical "9-to-5 work week." Furthermore, 63 percent check their email at least once every 60 to 120 minutes during non-work hours, more than half (53 percent) step away from a family occasion to deal with a business issue, and only 3 percent said they never tend to work emails or calls while on vacation.

Contrary to popular wisdom, however, executives say being "always on" is a good thing. In fact, only 15 percent say they struggle to separate their personal life from their work life, and a clear majority (84 percent) say working outside of normal business hours makes them feel empowered (40 percent) and well-prepared (44 percent).

Given the prevalence of working away from work — and the perceived benefits — it should come as no surprise: Although 95 percent of executives make business decisions at the office, gyro found that 52 percent and 59 percent make business decisions en route to work and in the home, respectively.

"Our research challenges the perception that people are unable to juggle busy working lives with personal time," Becker said. "Decision-makers are blending work and personal time effectively to make better business decisions, free from the shackles of the ticking clock. This research offers our clients valuable insight on when, where and how they can influence the high-value decisions made by their customers."