work-life balance

Emerging technologies have afforded workers today a different kind of environment. Whether it’s the opportunity to telecommute, flexible schedules, remote offices or shared work spaces, the way we do business has evolved from the traditional 9-5 of days past. Our own studies of the federal workforce have further reinforced this notion. While we have been pointing this out to federal marketers for the past year and a half, it now has a name.

work life integrationA recent article by Inc, has given a title to this blurred line between our work life and our personal life. Instead of a work-life balance, this is called work-life integration. Work-life integration, for many, eliminates hard boundaries and is ideal for professionals who want to shape their own workday. It allows them to incorporate parts of their personal life throughout the day, including needs brought on by children, elderly parents, or other activities. However, for others, this integration is a negative evolution, forcing them to over-incorporate work into every part of their life, while not giving personal parts of their life the same kind of priority.

Whether workers are embracing this, or fighting it, work-life integration also affects how we consume media and communications for work. Enabled by mobile technology, it is not surprising to find professionals checking personal emails or visiting social sites throughout the workday. Conversely the same technology allows them to just as easily check work emails or read online articles during personal time.

Does work-life integration affect federal workers as well? While workers at some agencies are restricted by security concerns, according to a couple of Market Connections studies, the resounding answer is YES.

According to a Mobility PulsePoll™ of federal audiences and their mobile activity, we found that 4 out of 5 felt mobile devices caused an increase of 3 or more work hours by being connected. Nine out of ten admitted to checking work email on their mobile devices on weeknights and weekends and three quarters were checking their work email during vacation!

We have also asked federal employees about their teleworking frequency in our annual Federal Media & Marketing Study. Approximately one quarter stated they were teleworking one day a week or more, with civilian agencies leading the pack and those in the DC area participating more often than those outside.

We also learned that one-quarter of federal employees in the DC area commuting by bus or rail checked their work emails during their commute, in this “grey” period between personal and work time, they were conducting work-related activities.

To learn more about the blurring of work and personal life and what it means for marketing, we recently explored attitudes toward targeted advertising. According to our research, nearly two-thirds admitted to seeing work-related advertising on websites they visit for personal reasons. Another four in ten said they saw work advertising in their personal social media accounts (excluding LinkedIn). With the concern that work ads might be seen as “intrusive” the question then became – had you ever clicked on work-related advertising you saw on sites visited for personal reasons or social media? Nearly half admitted to having had clicked on a work-related ad when visiting their personal social media, and over half admitted to having had clicked on one when visiting a website for personal reasons. Clearly this isn’t putting people off (it might actually be another pathway to them!)

What does this mean for those of us trying to reach federal audiences? Like the rest of us, federal workers are also experiencing a work-life integration and those looking to market to them should take this into consideration when putting together their marketing strategies. Marketing and media placement do not necessarily have to follow traditional 9-5 work schedules or traditional media channels.

However, if reaching them during non-traditional hours is something you’re willing to test, consider the following: 1. Which media/communications channels they are visiting; 2. Not all content during this time is equal. Take into account what type of marketing they are more open to unlocking (Video? Podcasts?); and 3. Consider your goals for marketing during non-traditional work hours and tailor your efforts to align with your goals. For example, social media may increase brand awareness, while website placement or earned media might be better to increase the depth of understanding of your products and services. Understand the goals of your marketing and what you want them to take away from your efforts.

To learn more about the media habits of those in the federal workforce, visit Market Connections Federal Central for the latest studies, blogs, and the Federal Media & Marketing dashboard, a one of a kind database that provides detailed information on the media and marketing habits of thousands of federal workers, inside and outside the beltway, across all agencies, product categories and decision-making levels.

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