Elon University

The 2008 Survey: Scenario Eight – The Evolving Concept of Time for Work, Leisure

Responses to this 2020 scenario were assembled from Internet stakeholders in the2008 Pew Internet & American Life/Elon University Predictions Survey. Participants were encouraged to provide a written elaboration to explain their answers. We share some—not all—of the responses here. Workplaces of respondents who shared their identity are attributed only for the purpose of indicating a level of expertise; statements reflect personal views. If you would like to participate in the next survey, mail andersj [at] elon dotedu; include information on your expertise.

Survey Internet ArtPrediction: Few lines divide professional time from personal time, and that’s OK. In 2020, well-connected knowledge workers in more-developed nations have willingly eliminated the industrial-age boundaries between work hours and personal time. Outside of formally scheduled activities, work and play are seamlessly integrated in most of these workers’ lives. This is a net-positive for people. They blend personal/professional duties wherever they happen to be when they are called upon to perform them—from their homes, the gym, the mall, a library, and possibly even their company’s communal meeting space, which may exist in a new virtual-reality format.

Compiled reactions from the 1,196 respondents:
57% Mostly agreed
29% Mostly disagreed
14% Did not respond

Expert respondents’ reactions (N=578):
56% Mostly agreed
29% Mostly disagreed
15% Did not respond

Overview of Respondents’ Reactions 
The vast majority of respondents agreed with every aspect of the scenario except for the “net-positive” outcome; this is where the debate was centered in the written elaborations. While some people are hopeful about a hyperconnected future that they say will offer more freedom, flexibility, better mental health and positive life-improvement, others express fears that mobility and ubiquity will be a burden in an always-on world that causes stress and the disintegration of family and social life and may also include oppressive surveillance by bosses and government. Other observations: People will rebel against corporate control of their lives. People and institutions will have to draw boundaries. Successful employers will adjust by taking holistic approaches. Because work infiltrates every corner of life, people will be motivated to pursue satisfying employment, rather than settling for a “job.” Deepened personal networks will strengthen professional outcomes. The workforce will be more dispersed. There will be an increase in divorce. People will not take the time to enjoy nurture or nature.

Below are select responses from survey participants who preferred to remain anonymous. This is not the full extent of responses. To see more, read the report PDF, and to read reactions from respondents who preferred to remain anonymous, please click here.

In an increasingly connected society, distinctions between work and leisure will still exist, but certainly not in the 8-hour chunks of the 20th century. Individuals will find themselves most productive when using the same tools for both work and personal purposes, rapidly switching between the two. Peter Kim, senior analyst, Forrester Research, Boston; specializes in e-strategy and management, social marketing, blogs; recent reports include “Microblogging for Marketers”

I do not want to live in an “on-call” society, tied to a device. As it is now, face-to-face communication is interrupted, by the cell phone, which people “instinctively” respond to. The face-to-face interaction is on hold. The devices are calling the shots. Charles Hill, a respondent who chose not to share any other identifying information

The idea of separating work and home life is a distinctly Western, Victorian one. It basically doesn’t exist as a concept before the late 19th century. It won’t last much longer, but not just because of technology—because the way we organized cities for the last 100 years was something of an anomaly. Anthony Townsend, research director for the Technology Horizons Program of the Institute for the Future, providing long-range forecasts on technology; he is also a co-founder of NYCwireless

People with high Internet connectivity in future will likely be dependent for this on their engagement with their companies, but by the same token, their very existence will be dictated by their belonging to that company or corporation, such that, they may as well be labeled as “slaves,” with the proviso that, should they wish to be freed from the company, they will also be freed from any connection with their fellow man via the Internet. In this scenario, employees will have very little choice as to where and when they devote their time to the profit-making of the company. Of course I may see this as a negative thing, but perhaps the generation of today are already being trained to recognize that being a company employee first means they can be recognized as an identity/a person only as a function of that. Alex Don, linguist and educator

While I agree that fewer lines now divide professional from personal time, I don’t think this is A-OK. We are seeing now an entire self-help industry growing up around the withering effects of the so-called attention crash. While we will continue to have ubiquitous access–and others will have ubiquitous access to us–this is today inspiring many to seek release in yoga, meditation, tai chi, Pilates, etc. This tendency will not abate but grow stronger. The fewer the lines that divide professional from personal time, the more we will dive inside; we will drive ourselves away from the attention crash to places of peace and quiet. Barry K. Chudakov, principal, the Chudakov Company, a marketing and advertising strategies creative consultant who has worked with many major corporations, including Microsoft and Disney

Sounds like my life/work balance, right now! Great if and when the rest of the connected world catches up :-) Cheryl Langdon-Orr, a leader in the Internet Society, ICANN and ALAC (At-Large); a board member of AUDA, the group in charge of Australian Domain Name registration

This is already taking place today in less-developed nations as well, with more employers tolerating the use of Facebook and MSN on office PCs. –Fadi Salem, research associate, Dubai School of Government; research focuses on e-government and development in the Middle East and North Africa

Technology will liberate well-connected knowledge workers from the “commute.”  It may also liberate them from a traditional sense of job security. –Mark Youman, principal, ICF International, a Washington, DC, consulting-services company that works with government and commercial clients

Most people fall into careers that complement their personal interests, so they will always be the drivers of this kind of work/play/work innovation. My passion is my work, so when I do what I love, I excel at work. And what we cannot experience at work—such as fulfillment and glory—we’ll enhance in secondary channels, including video games, virtual environments, and social networks. –Buddy Scalera, vice president for interactive content and market research for CommonHealth Qi, in charge of interactive online strategies, including social and viral marketing

In this picture life seems perfect and ideal. There is no war, no conflicts, no fights within relationships, no environmental disasters, no storms and no droughts. In short: there are no accidents. The world is a place where nothing happens. A bit silly, no? Geert Lovink, professor and expert on culture, sociology and the Internet; based in Amsterdam; author of “Dark Fiber” and “Uncanny Networks”; responsible for the Institute of Network Cultures

I agree, however, by 2020 I think people will be beginning to see this as a net negative and be looking for a return to late 20th century split of work/social time (they will want their lives back). Adam Peake, executive research fellow and telecommunications policy analyst, the Center for Global Communications (GLOCOM; studies the intersection of public policy and the Internet

2020 seems a little early for this. David Brin, futurist and author whose 1998 non-fiction book “The Transparent Society: Will Technology Force Us to Choose Between Privacy and Freedom?”

Likely, but as always, the cause of much complaining. –Jamais Cascio, originator of Open the Future, also works with the Institute for the Future, Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, and Worldchanging

Sad but true. Connectivity is hard to get away from, and it’ll become more so. Also, since few of us in developed nations by 2020 will place faith in standard forms of employment, we’ll be relying on taking work (in the form of projects) as it flies at us. That means we’ll need to be ready to catch it at any time. –Dian Schaffhauser, writer and editor for CampusTechnology.com, THEJournal.com, Redmond Magazine, Computerworld, and Web Worker Daily; founder of Sourcingmag.com

This seems to be the case now, minus the virtual reality part, oh, and the seamlessly part! –Steve Jones, professor of communication and associate dean of liberal arts and sciences, University of Illinois-Chicago, co-founder of Association of Internet Researchers

That sounds like my life right now! And yes, it’s net-positive. –Paul Miller, technology evangelist on the senior management team at Talis, a company delivering human-centric Web applications, based in Birmingham, UK; a blogger for ZDNet

I always tend to agree with the approach of creating a divine line between work time and play time. There should be a balance, otherwise it can described as an obsession with one or the other. –Hanane Boujemi, ICT researcher for DiploFoundation, working on educating people about Internet policy and Internet governance, Malta

This scenario will not be for the majority of citizens. –Janet D. Cohen, blogger, futurist and trend analyst

“Blending personal and professional time” is well described as workaholic. I suspect that for their personal health people will if anything learn to impose better boundaries. –Fred Baker, fellow, Cisco Systems, former Internet Society (ISOC) chairman of the board; Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) leader; an architect of the Internet

The work/play diffusion will result in a harsher result for those on the other side of the divide. –Michele Perras, artist, consultant, researcher and futurist with Interactive Ontario

Communication-free zones are established on resort, beachfront, and tropical properties and become popular tourist destinations.  Digital communications are not functional at these locations and visitors notify friends and coworkers before departing. –DJ Strouse, international relations and computer science student, University of Southern California

This is already happening. –Richard Hall, professor of information science and technology and co-director of the Laboratory for Information Technology Evaluation, Missouri University of Science and Technology

This concept assumes that people don’t have families and friends and that the only thing they enjoy is work. There are of course people like that. But most normal people will be very unwilling to stop reading a bedside story to their children, or enjoying the view as they shoot down the piste, just because they are connected. There are boundaries between areas of life for a reason—work, play, children, eating, sex, learning… Jeremy Swinfen Green, Telecom Express, an interactive marketing company

This is already true in 2007 for a large number of knowledge workers. Even for those who have clear lines between work and home, there is a cultural understanding that this division is less prevalent for professionals. It’s not a question of “if” but rather of what proportion of the population will become a part of this group. –Alexander Halavais, professor and social informatics researcher, Quinnipiac University; explores the ways in which social computing influences society

Mobile devices have already spilled work hours over into personal time and I think it is inevitable that the opposite trend begins! I already see this beginning to happen in my own workplace. –Christian Ferris, associate director of career advising at Washington University

Yes, though I wish I could honestly tick “mostly disagree.” As an academic, I do tend to blur professional and personal life. But as an academic, I can choose which bits to do at home (i.e. the ones that I like). I would dislike being in the situation of being able to be contacted 24/7 by a superior. Emma Duke-Williams, lecturer in the School of Computing and researcher, University of Portsmouth, United Kingdom; education blogger

This sounds like a description of 2008. (Also not clear that there’s any real basis for calling this a net-positive, as the change strikes me as incommensurable with the earlier era). –Clay Shirky, consultant and professor in the Interactive Telecommunications Program at New York University; an expert on the social and economic effects of Internet technologies

That’s how I live now! Robert J. Berger, CTO for Cinch; expert on backbone networks, access networks, wireless networks, and innovative Web applications, a frequent speaker on Next-Generation Networks

I agree it’s likely to happen. I don’t think it’s a good thing, especially not a “net positive.” Having to be on-call all day all week is NOT a sign of progress. Per the saying, “The Union Movement: The People Who Brought You the Weekend.” –Seth Finkelstein, anti-censorship activist and programmer, author of the Infothought blog and an EFF Pioneer Award winner

You don’t have to wait until 2020 this is already happening with anybody who owns a BlackBerry or iTouch. –Bill St. Arnaud, chief research officer, CANARIE Inc., an industry-government consortium that promotes and develops information-highway technologies in Canada; active in Internet2

The fact that few lines divide professional from personal time is very true. However, I’m not certain that this is OK. I rather think it’s beyond our control, considering the integration of digital medium into daily business and personal activities. –Sam Ozay, e-learning and e-communication specialist and solutions architect at Postmodern (Asia/Pacific); formerly general manager at European Language Centre

Agree but for the virtual reality bit. Much of this is already the case (who knows where you are when your office number diverted to your cell phone rings). Sam Smith, Web interface developer, University of Manchester, UK

It has already begun! Don Heath, Internet pioneer; former president and CEO of the Internet Society; member of U.S. State Department Advisory Committee on International Communication and Information Policy

I agree for two interrelated reasons. First, technology already enables this, and, second, more and more professional endeavors are global/multinational, meaning that at least some collaboration will require live sessions that will require participants to join in at all hours of the day and night (I already have to rise in the wee hours of the morning to take part in committee work of just such an international organization). –Steve Goldstein, ICANN Board member, retired from National Science Foundation, where his job in the 1990s was to help diffuse the Internet globally

Personal time will be one of the most valuable assets 10 years from now. Sebastian Ricciardi, associate with Jauregui & Associates, a law firm in Buenos Aires; leader in the Argentina chapter of the Internet Society, formerly of ICANN’s At-Large Advisory Committee

This is already the case for some of us. Itir Akdogan, Ph.D. candidate and lecturer, University of Helsinki, expertise in ICT in empowering women and girls

It’s that way for me already. Dan Lynch, founder of CyberCash Inc. and Interop Company and an Internet pioneer; board member of Santa Fe Institute; director of computing for SRI International in the late 1970s

For some workers the blending of personal/professional time and “always available” connectivity will be a good fit, but good questions are being asked about the degree to which such a lifestyle inhibits reflection, creativity, and innovative thinking.
Michael Edson, director for Web and new media strategy, Smithsonian Institution

This will be true for younger individuals who see these lines blurring already. Like everything, however, I suspect these things will change when people have kids and then, as parents, they value time with the family and opt to protect this time. Todd Wagner, health economist, Health Economics Resource Center, Palo Alto, part of the US Veterans Administration; also involved with the Center for Healthcare Evaluation

Many professional women with families have already tried this.  Peter Ducker understood the problem when he talked about “widow-maker” jobs.  Sometimes we all need to get away from the constant pressure or interacting with everyone in our lives at once. I do not think that can be changed with technology. Ramona Nelson, Ph.D., co-director of the healthcare informatics program, Slippery Rock University

Pressures on mass-transit systems, on fuel supply and global time shifting will make this inevitable. The trade-off is that we will have to blend flexible working hours with personal time while still striking a balance. Jill O’Neill, director of planning and communication, National Federation of Abstracting and Information Services; author of the Infotoday blog; based in the Philadelphia area

As more and more people leave the conventional workforce (by choice or layoff) and become entrepreneurs, it will only become more ubiquitous. For one who owns his or her own business, evening is no different than 9 to 5, weekends no different than weekdays, and holidays don’t really exist. If there’s work to be done, clients to serve, then you work—if not, THEN you can play. –Judith Siess, president of Information Bridges International Inc. and publisher and editor of the One-Person Library newsletter, author and blogger

This already occurs for many people, and will only increase. The Internet and e-mail and virtual reality have made the always-on personal/work spaces merge. –Catherine A. Fitzpatrick, Open Society Institute, Physicians for Human Rights; lecturer on humanitarian issues; formerly UN representative for International League of Human Rights

Yes, I agree, but as someone who already does this to a certain degree—I wonder if it’s healthy. Will it result in a work/life balance that is really off? Tiffany Shackelford, consultant who works with clients such as Phase 2 Technology, Stateline.org, Foneshow, WebbMedia, and Daily Me

A big driver will be environmental. Why again are we producing all that smog to sit in an office and send email to the worker in the next cubicle? There will be some “correction” here, as workers learn how not to get sucked dry by employers who “empower” them to work 24/7. –Karen G. Schneider, research and development College Center for Library Automation, Tallahassee, Florida; expert and thought-leader in the library and technology community

Yes, but keep “real” holidays! Sebastien Bachollet, president of the Internet Society of France, operates the European Global Event on domain Names and Address systems, known as EGENI, active participant in ICANN

I currently work 60 hours a week, with computers assisting me at home, the office, and on my belt. I look forward to the day when my office is virtual, and I’m confident it will happen before I retire in 10 years. Bill Warren, vice president of government relations, Walt Disney World; founding editor of the Orlando Business Journal

I tend to work far more hours because when I have down time at home, I usually am sitting with my laptop working on my job. At the same time, I feel if I need to do something personal while on the job, I can. Debbie Murray, associate director, health education through extension, University of Kentucky

I agree this will happen but don’t agree it will be a net positive.  Examples of the refreshing power of a change of scene are too common to believe that this is an overall improvement in our mental state. –Jerry McCann, vice president and director of the social marketing group at Carton Donofrio Partners Inc.,  marketing and advertising firm in the Washington, D.C., area

This is already happening, but I do not believe it is “positive.”   It is part of an ideology that forces the brain worker to run behind a business target that is always moving ahead at high speed. –João Miguel Rocha Filho, director, DataOne, a provider of software for connecting to Linux; based in Brazil

Things will change more fundamentally. The scenario described here is a repositioning of the idea of personal/professional from the 20th century into the 21st. Perhaps machines will do all of the “work” and humans will only do things they perceive as “creative.” We do not know yet. Judy Breck, blogger at GoldenSwamp.com—aimed at “watching the global golden age of learning emerge from the open Internet”

Why are you asking “if” work and play will be seamlessly integrated in most of these workers’ lives?  It already has happened—certainly it has for me. –Leonard Witt, associate professor in communication, Kennesaw State University, Georgia; research interest is citizen journalism and user-generated content; author of Weblog PJNet.

For many of us, that’s already the case. It will be even more so in 2020. –Joan Connell, online editor, The Nation magazine, formerly an executive producer for MSNBC.com, senior editor for MSN and a Pulitzer finalist for her reporting

This is dystopian but not really a vision. Most of the processes you mention in your statement are already going on. NOW. –Oliver Quiring, Ph.D. Institute for Communication Science and Media Research, LMU, Munich, Germany

As a current knowledge worker, I have had blurred lines between personal and professional time for many years, and find it works well in my life. I do not mind ‘working’ on my off time—I love my career, and it defines me. This is possibly due to having lived a military life, where one never really sheds the military ‘on duty’ status. This has also led to considering my life to be more transparent than my parents’ lives—everything is known and will be known about you in the military, even as a family member. –Teresa Hartman, associate professor and head of education, University of Nebraska Medical Center

The line between work and play is bound to be broken. This is good for people who are able to focus on the work that pays the bills. Not so good for many others. There should be a high school course that teaches how to relax, get away from work at times and yet take responsibility for what needs to be done. Mike Samson, interactive media writer and producer

Why wait for 2020? All we need to do is look at the waves of people using mobile digital devices to conduct business from their cars, at their dining room table, and in every way possible. We haven’t embraced the seamless integration of digital connectivity, it has swallowed us. –Stephen Schur, director of online communications, Ramapo College of New Jersey, U.S.

A possibility indeed (though tele-working has been around as a “future certainty” for decades now) for some very specific professions. It is an impossibility for others. Luis Santos, Universidade do Minho—Braga, Portugal

This is how I live today. It will get better when we have better means to substitute face-to-face meetings. –Jeff Jarvis, top blogger at Buzzmachine.com; professor at City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism; contributor and consultant to the Guardian; adviser to start-ups

With greater connectivity and the ability to capture, process, send, and receive information through multiple devices anytime and anywhere, we move closer to perpetually “plugged-in” society. Ed Dieterle, Harvard Graduate School of Education; research tied to handheld devices for ubiquitous learning

This has always been true, and the Internet simply increases connectivity options. But there is still the “off” button, and there will still be people who for reasons of privacy, sanity, or stealth, just switch off or let the machine get it. –Dennis Baron, professor of English and linguistics, University of Illinois, runs the Web of Language site and researches the technologies of communication

Unless there’s a radical shift among the younger generation (the “millennials”), people are going to continue to value separation of personal time and professional time unless forced into a new scenario. Even then, longing for “the good old days” will abound. Corporations and the people who control them are not liable to give up their greed. Kathee Brewer, freelance journalist and consultant, Galveston, Texas; editor of AVN online magazine, a publication for the adult entertainment industry

This scenario has only a single wrong note: “and that’s OK.” –Walt Dickie, executive vice president and chief technology officer, C&R Research, one of the principal developers of CheckMetrix in the early ’90s

The erosion of barriers between work and personal time is an insidious trend, and it’s not OK. Corporations have found new ways, largely through technology, to squeeze more labor out of their workforce by blurring the line between both time and space constraints of what is work and what is free-time. Knowledge workers have not submitted to this invasion peacefully—it has been forced upon them as a precondition for participating in the current job market. You cannot get a corporate job these days without being expected to be available at home or in transit whenever the job requires your attention. –Sam McAfee, chief technology officer and owner, RadicalFusion, a company that offers consulting on Web design and development, server-side programming and database development

People go crazy when they meld their personal and professional lives. It does not matter if they are knowledge workers or factory workers. If people don’t have to go to work or spend time working for others, they won’t. –Theresa Maddix, satisfaction research analyst, ForeSee Results

This scenario will most likely come to pass, and I think that is unfortunate. We should not live to work, but work to live. Boundaries are critical, and technology is tearing them down brick by brick. Lisa Carr, director of strategy, Targetbase Interactive, healthcare strategist and writer

As the pendulum swings to a more work-life scenario and it becomes commonplace, eventually, there will be a movement (by 2030?) back to the more traditional separation of work and life. –Mike Driehorst, messaging strategist; leads social media for Hanson Inc., an interactive communications and video production company in Ohio

This is happening already. It is a global business world, so conference calls at odd hours are not unusual. The only thing that might stop this from going further are attitudes of the younger generations, who want more separation between their personal and professional lives. –Susan Frede, vice president for research and panel management, TNS, a global market research company

I am living in that blur now and it works well for me. Stephanie Geyer, associate vice president e-communications and Web strategy, Noel-Levitz, an operating division of Sallie Mae that consults on recruitment and marketing of higher education

I have no way to agree or disagree with this statement. On the one hand, there are ALREADY few lines drawn between these two spheres. So to that end I agree with Mariana Almeida: As a result of this, we will need to be well-versed in stress-management and in creating one’s own rules to shut out work. Alexis Turner, Webmaster, Greenwood Publishing Group, New York

There will be growing resentment of the invasion of personal time by work responsibilities. –John Jobst, IT specialist, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

It certainly has consequences but day-in and day-out, most of us feel it reflects convenience more than anything. Our other ideas and reactions are the exception not the rule. David Allen, Ph.D., Temple University

Maybe I’m getting old, but I still know a lot of people (even younger people) who like to completely detach from their knowledge-worker lives. Brian T. Nakamoto, co-founder of MrJoy Inc. and product-line manager for Everyone.net, (a leading provider of outsourced email solutions for individuals and companies around the world)

We’re seeing this already, in 2008. Stan Tennyson, deputy program manager, BETA A&AS support to the Office of Warfighting Integration, chief information officer, Sumaria Systems Inc., a defense contractor

Seems to be reality right now, but for a small group only. Jutta Croll, managing director, Stiftung Digitale Chancen – Digital Opportunities Foundation, Berlin, Germany, promoting and supporting access and equal opportunities for all online

I am not so sure about the “that’s ok” element, but the rest seems inevitable. Ed Steinmueller, professor, science and technology policy research, University of Sussex; researches industrial structure of high technology industries, co-evolution of technology

The ubiquity of mobile communication technology makes this outcome inevitable. Tim Grafton, market research director for UMR Research Ltd., a market research company based in New Zealand

This is harder than you think and doesn’t depend on the technology. Many want their work/leisure time separated by forces outside themselves, i.e. an employer! Blending is difficult. We will be going in this direction, for a percentage of people, and by their choice.–Jennifer Jarratt, principal, Leading Futurists LLC; works with formalized methodologies to assess and interpret potential futures

Yes, it’s too hard to disentangle, especially as the number of jobs per person over a lifetime increases. Bryan Alexander, director of research National Institute for Technology and Liberal Education, blogger, expert on computer-mediated pedagogy, Ripton, Vermont

Just as child labor or 12-hour/6-to-7-day workweeks seem unreasonable now, too much professional time integrated into personal time will be resisted. The companies and individuals who thrive in this type of “merged” professional/personal scenario will be those who recognize the mutual benefits. Scott Brenner, technologist, Web developer, consultant for clients ranging from Fortune 100 companies to small non-profits

People who love their work rarely see the divisions. This may be sad to those who are less enchanted by work-life vagueness, but it’s fine by me. –Paul Jones, director of ibiblio.org at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill; the original manager of SunSITE, one of the first Web sites in North America

I can conceive of this scenario by 2040 possibly, but in the next 12 years we will not have developed the organizational & management skills to operate complex institutions that operate in this manner. Christopher Jacobs, chief operating officer, Solutions for Progress Inc.; formerly with KnowledgeFlow Inc. and Unisys Corp.

For many people, this is already reality today, so this is no bold prediction. But it might be that we will see a counter-reaction as people feel exploited by employers who demand that they be online 24/7. Hence employers need to be prepared for this risk. Olav Anders Övrebö, media blogger and former Netzeitung journalist, University of Bergen

This scenario will develop even sooner than 2020 in developed economies. The more mobile our technologies become, the more likely this scenario will be. –Jane Sarasohn-Kahn, founder, health economist, and management consultant, THINK-Health, a strategic health consultancy; author of iHealthBeat, an online publication

I think people will find that this scenario isn’t healthy in the long run and most people will find ways to make separations. Lynn Blumenstein, senior editor, Library Hotline, Reed Business Information

There is no doubt that this trend will intensify over the next dozen years. But whether this is a “net positive for people” is controversial. Certainly it has some identifiable benefits. But it has also led to people’s overall lives becoming extensions of their work lives and consumer lives, and the elimination of boundaries and of silence is a cultural shift with many problematic aspects.  As Thomas Friedman has said, it leads to “over-connectedness being the social disease of the 21st Century.” –Jeremy J. Shapiro, a professor of critical social theory at Fielding Graduate University with a research emphasis on the social and cultural effects of information technology and systems

Hopefully, this will develop in a way that will give individuals more freedom and flexibility instead of forcing people to work more hours per day. David F. Salisbury, associate director for science and research communications, Vanderbilt University; formerly science and technology reporter for The Christian Science Monitor

Civilization, ethics, integrity are nurtured at shared family supper, private moments of physical intimacy, people reading aloud to each other, parents teaching children and turning them on to refinements and pleasures—these are left of out of the scenario and surely by 2020 people will see that they do not have to live in a “Lord of the Flies” ethical wasteland, which is what is evolving now. Nurturing children and nurturing love relationships and friendships will occur outside the professional, at places of worship, over meals, etc. Bruce Henry, Concordia University (Montreal)

We will begin to see more of a breakdown in family relationships because it’s too easy for parents to hide behind an away message and harder for the children to bring up (or get caught doing) something that needs attention. You know, those difficult subjects: pregnancy, drugs, hurt feelings from bullying, pre-suicide. Technology still doesn’t pick up the nuances that are so crucial in personal relationships—and filling both professional/personal time into one seamless life, takes the edge off of catching problems early because of the flip of the hair, the look in their eye, the catch in their voice. Texting, e-mail, etc just doesn’t catch the subtle telltale signals. Christopher Brown, strategist and managing editor of new media for the U.S. television program “America’s Most Wanted” on FOX

The situation shall become more prevalent by far, but only in that small area at the top of the wage spectrum. Francis J.L. Osborn, futurist and activist, philosophy department, University of Wales Lampeter (formerly St. David’s University College)

While the scenario is likely I don’t see the outcome as being “a net positive” for people. It is more likely to be seen as a positive development for the organizations that pay them. It will be change driven by economic imperative. –Sam Punnett, president, FAD Research Inc.; has worked in the field of interactive digital media since the 1980s, for the last nine years on strategy, marketing, and e-business development

This is already beginning to be true, and will increasingly be the case, but the elimination of divisions between personal and professional time will not be a good thing. For most people, this will be a net negative, though they won’t have a choice. Stress levels will increase, health will decrease and there will eventually be a backlash, where people increasingly try to draw the line between the personal and professional, with mixed success. People will increasingly bring exercise devices to the workplace and work at their desks while walking on treadmills and using exercise bikes. Entirely new gyms will be created aimed at enabling people to work and workout at the same time. Jonathan Dube, president of Online News Association, director of digital media at CBC News, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, publisher of CyberJournalist.net

Because of the omnipresence of communication tools, people in 2020 will find difficulty in escaping from people’s reach. There will be a new concern in finding personal time away from work. People will experiment different ways to find balance between work and personal life, public and private times, and the hectic and leisure. Clement Chau, research manager for the Developmental Technologies Research Group at Tufts University

This mixing up of professional and personal time is clearly increasing but for most people it’s not OK. It can be OK for managers and executives who want to compete, but for other people it means more and more work as a result of competition on the labor market. Yves Froidevaux, Swiss Federal Statistical Office

There is a subtext here that work becomes more what you want it to be, and you end up blending different bits of work into your life at different times and in different ways. There may be social issues here though, in that this is something that will increasingly be available for those in higher social classes, perhaps even creating a new sort of digital divide. Richard Osborne, Web manager for the School of Education & Lifelong Learning, University of Exeter; research focus is e-learning

People in information industries (don’t forget about the trades—physical things still need to be built and maintained) will trade flexibility for time. We will work more, but be able to choose when and how much. Less time wasted on physical co-location unless it produces concrete advantages and benefits. Virtual meeting spaces will become better and more commonly used for interaction. This will be especially true in education, government, and administration. Ted M. Coopman, lecturer, San Jose State University

Technology allows us to meld both professional and personal and it will be increasing hard to separate the two. Just like workers will pay bills online during “work” hours, they will also attend to work over the dinner table. This will actually improve productivity and job satisfaction. Rachel Kachur, behavioral researcher, U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

Many workers are borderline-invested in this manner, today. This blending is what is truly driving the innovation and the push toward the reality described in this scenario. It is self-fulfilling. The people who want this scenario are the people who would build this scenario. Unless you propose that it’s technically not possible, and we know that’s not true, then it must happen. Eric Kreider, director of Web services, the University of Akron (Ohio), US

There is already a backlash developing against the “always-on” work culture, though the strength of this varies considerably between different countries and cultures. I believe that this will get stronger over time, rather than allowing the insidious intrusion of work into the rest of life that the scenario implies.  (If it doesn’t, heaven help us!) Roderick White, editor, Admap magazine, World Advertising Research Center

People have always had differing boundaries between work-life and personal-life. For some, the two are intertwined. Business owners along with those in the arts, and politics often feel they are always “working.” This is not necessarily a new phenomenon. If obliterating the boundaries between work time and personal time becomes a requirement for maintaining a job as a “knowledge worker,” we will see a shift in the knowledge-worker population toward those with a preference for this integration. I’m not so sure that’s OK. Peter W. Van Ness, president, Van Ness Group, a Web-development company; founded Personal Computer Solutions in 1983; co-founded StockPlan, Inc. and MyStockOptions.com

The line between what is “at-work behavior” and what is not will remain firm. Companies that have implemented Internet content filters to keep staff from using blogs, social networking sites, and e-mail during work hours are so, so sad. They don’t realize that these tools help them. Given that attitude today, I can’t see it changing drastically in the next decade. Sarah Houghton-Jan, consultant for the Infopeople Project; digital futures manager, San Jose Public Library; author of the Librarian in Black technology blog

I am experiencing that phenomena now, and while at times I am concerned with the degree to which I am “connected,” at the same time I enjoy the flexibility it provides me. Taking downtime will become a more learned and self-imposed process versus one that is dictated by physical working environments. –Nathan Botts, community informatics research associate at the Kay Center for E-Health Research; working on the national health information network (NHIN) and outreach

Nope. Sorry. I don’t buy it. I’d like to think that ongoing advancements in productivity and manufacturing will lead to an overall decrease in the number of work hours and the beginning of a de facto post-scarcity economy. But, in general, people will be more jealous of their personal time by 2020, and will take great pains to safeguard it. –Jason Stoddard, managing partner/strategy at Centric/Agency of Change, an interactive strategies company

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Work and life will blend and people will complain. Dan Weingrod, vice president for digital operations, Cronin and Co.; oversees creative online initiatives for integrated marketing communications company

While not true for all; most work is not going to be purely knowledge work but will instead require a physical presence or telepresence and for those tasks it will be necessary for people to still work some type of coordinated “normal hours” for that group. –Shawn Kelly Apochromantic, configurations manager, designer, technologist, futurist, General Atomics, and volunteer builder in Second Life

The hard part is creating the fluid organization to match the way work and personal time flow. Nancy W. Bauer, chief executive officer and editor-in-chief, WomenMatter Inc.

I would quibble about whether that’s a “good thing.”  These boundaries are clearly fusing and it is unlikely that the trajectory will reverse itself. –Amy Friedlander, director of programs for the Council on Library and Information Resources, a non-profit that services research and higher education

Since this is already happening, the issue is whether “net positive” means better lives or more work-centric lives. J.W. Huston, president of Huston Consultancy and futurist

Some people will opt out of those jobs that have and will continue to drift towards 24/7 availability, but for a growing generation it will be the norm. Jim Lucas, Web manager, CACI, a provider of national security, defense, and intelligence-related solutions in the interests of the United States

I agree with the blending. Not sure I agree with the part about this being best for everyone. I think we all know that without boundaries, work tends to take over everything. –Douglas Schulz, managing editor for online publishing, America’s Health Insurance Plans; formerly a Web team director for a biotech industry organization and manager of Internet and Web services at the Council of Better Business Bureaus

Though I work in technology and may not exemplify the average worker, this is already true. –Kathryn K. Goldfarb, president, KG Communications, an independent consultancy

There is no doubt that we are truly embracing the “now” society with 24/7/365 connectivity devices and expectations from our employers, friends and family. However, the pendulum will eventually swing back, and we will see a resurgence of simple-living. Technology-free folk, who feel (or have been statistically convinced) that dedicated time and separation between the commitments of our lives, will abandon all the new interactivity and will find old ways to enjoy one thing at a time. Drew Diskin, director of e-strategy, Johns Hopkins Medicine

Most people will prefer to have some segregation of their professional and personal lives. –Mike Langum, Web developer, U.S. Office of Personnel Management

Devices like the BlackBerry have already blurred the lines between work and personal time. There’s no doubt that this trend will continue. Whether it’s a net positive for people remains to be seen. The younger generation who grows up with this mindset will accept it much easier than those who have to adapt to it. Jay Buys, vice president for digital development, Fleishman Hillard, an international marketing and communications company

There will be a movement to establish firm walls between personal and professional time, indeed the movement has already started. The American Work Ethic, while noble in spirit, can be in practice dangerous to one’s health. The hyper-capitalism begun during the Reagan years, exacerbated during the Clinton and Bush years will reach its endpoint when people discover that the work-life balance truly is just that: a balance between work and the rest your daily life. –William Winton, product manager, digital media, 1105 Government Information Group

We are already seeing this with the proliferation of virtual offices and the ability to connect and communicate from any place with a clear cellular signal. Kent Kirschner, media specialist, Neighborhood America, inviting companies to understand the power of community building online

Most people require separation of personal and work time as a de-stressor. This scenario may hold true for people that work for an Internet-related company, but not the majority of people. –Mack B. Rhoades Jr., Web services product manager, Michael Baker Corp.

They only affected a small part of the population at any time. “Work” and “non-work” are artificial distinctions used by politicians, union labor organizers, bureaucrats, educators, and other fools, trying to control others. ––Dick Davies, partner, Project Management and Control Inc.; past president of the Association of Information Technology Professionals
People will accept this trade-off, as it will allow them to work anytime and anywhere. Lawrence Swiader, chief information officer, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

It will happen even if most folks don’t think it’s OK. James Jay Horning, chief scientist, information systems security, SPARTA, Inc.; a former Fellow at Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center; Fellow of the ACM

It’s been happening for some time. I’m already living/working just this way. And it works just fine for me and for those who remunerate my work. But it’s not everyone’s “beach,” as we say in Brazil. Many people cannot work autonomously; and many employers likewise are not prepared for it. So, just as cinema did not displace theatre, and television did not displace cinema, etc., the new-ways-of-working will not entirely eliminate the old ways. And I rather think that this is good. –Fredric M. Litto, consultant for Pearson Education Global e-Learning, president, Brazil Distance Learning Association

This will only work if people have the ability to take time off.  The expectation that workers are going to be available 24/7/365 runs contrary to human nature, and processes will develop that allow people to assert control of their time. Robert H. Rich, Ph.D., strategic planning and evaluation, American Chemical Society

This could be very workable for knowledge workers, and is already for many. I try to work from home at least twice a month but more often would be most welcome. However, it means a different kind of managing style, one more suited to ensuring tasks are done and goals are reached rather than a certain number of hours are clocked. –Patti Nelson, a Webmaster who works on U.S. government sites

Work will still be work. There are some who already have seamlessly integrated work and play. But if current trends continue most people will be “well-connected knowledge workers” doing menial, bureaucratic tasks. No one will want to take that home 24/7. –Marco Rivera, Internet specialist, Vistronix Inc., an information management, technological solutions and managed services firm serving federal, state, and local agencies

It’s already happening, and more-traditional companies will find a way to embrace this in their day-to-day management of people and clients. –Helen Keegan, founder of Beep Marketing, a self-employed consultant and a judge for the Webby Awards

Agree with the permeability of work/play boundaries, but not the “willingly.” David Hakken, Indiana University School of Informatics and a professor of anthropology who studies social change and the use of automated information and communication technologies 

There will be those who want to work this way, but even amongst knowledge workers there will probably be those who still want to be able to switch off from time to time.–Heath Gibson, manager of research and market analysis, Big Pond, a competitive intelligence company and provider of broadband customer Websites in Australia

The line between professional and personal time is disappearing. This is, in part, due to portable connectedness through hand-held devices and smart phones. It is also the result of people whose work is an enjoyable and intrinsic part of their life—where work is much more than a job. –Elizabeth Talerman, chief operating officer, Talerman+Partners LLC, a marketing-integration company; previously senior vice president of marketing at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia

This is the province of the networked elite, and not of people in general. –Paul Hyland, executive producer, edweek.org; formerly a member of the board of directors for Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility and director at Media Matters for America