I'm never amazed to find that business and personal lives are entirely one and the same - especially among the business service professionals - in high tech and outside, with whom I work. I've always been far more amazed, astounded and flabbergasted by the people who are constantly stressing about how they're trying so hard to "balance their life" between business and personal. Or on the other hand, I'm equally stunned by who say (and seem to mean it when they do) that "it is (whatever it is, is) just business" when they make a decidedly cruel decision - one that spits in the face of compassion.
The fact of the matter is that unless they turn off their Blackberry Curves at 5:00pm and put them in their office desk drawer before they leave for the other side of the scales of justice and balance, there is no "just business" nor is there a "balance" between business and personal life that achievable - for the simple fact, we each are a single entity and have one life and what we do at work and at home, while different components of that single life, are, I would hope and think, governed by the same code of ethics, same principles, same ideologies, same emotional makeup and the same kinds of behaviors - with a few propitiatory tweaks here and there in a nod to whatever environment you're in at the time. But not tweaks to ethics and principles.
I say theoretically, because there is incredible denial out there when it comes to work-life integration or that there is no separation between the codes that are at play in the part of your life devoted to work and the part of your life devoted to everything else.
If you google "work-life balance" there are 1,950,000 references to it. If you google "work-life integration" there are 37,700 references out there. So its clear which remains the buzz concept du jour. But work-life balance so called, aside from being some form of paradiso, nirvana or zen - depending on your bent - is a concept that can't be achieved realistically, nor do many people even in the 9-5 world live their life with that harmony. Far more of us actually do work stuff at home and home stuff at work - ranging from the simplest, "oh that's not a fair example" of calling the kids to see how they're doing or calling the spouse to remind them to do something - from work. Or at home, remembering you have to take care of something and going upstairs and sending an email after you had dinner with the family - and just doing it, no muss, no fuss.
Another easy example - when you have to remain late at work or often do a con call at night - you either remain late at work or go home and do the conference call. But the key here is....you do the conference call from either place. Fact is, telework is becoming something that employers and employees see as a benefit because it brings down office cost and clutter and is a much happier working environment. It is becoming such a prevalent trend that yesterday the General Services Administration (GSA) announced that they were looking to have 50% of their employees teleworking by 2010. That's amazing. That's a government agency. A gov-va-ment-a-gen-cy.
In fact, this is becoming an important enough topic for the Wharton School of Business to have conducted a Work/Life Roundtable on it.
What does this have to do with CRM?
A lot. The integration of our work and personal lives affects how customers deal with us and how we deal with customers. Physical location is becoming increasingly less important (though not unimportant) in how the customer-company relationship is conducted and the ability to be flexible and mobile more important. In fact, there is a reason that RIM - makers of the ubiquitous - and now cool - Blackberry (see the new wi-fi enabled Blackberry 8820 for something well worth it) have been rightly pushing mobile CRM and we're seeing an upsurge of interest in mobile CRM apps. The availability of CRM on the iPhone as the first identifiable business "category" to go to it, is also an indicator of what's going on with work/life integration and CRM itself (nb: I'm almost done with the CRM for the iPhone bakeoff testing. Teaser: mobile CRM on an Edge network with a rich environment is a friggin' bear. As cool as the iPhone is, CRM on a Blackberry, optimized for it, at the moment, is a better bet than CRM on an iPhone. More on the results after I get back from Gartner). Movin' and, successfully groovin' is becoming a 21st century mantra for how businesses and customers deal with each other. The office isn't the place the deal gets closed, nor is it the place the customer goes to find the company. As often as not, these days, its online that the bulk of the activity around the deals are done. Including conversation. Those activities, web or phone or whatever communications channel are done at the office, at home or on the road during the day or the night, depending on the time-related proclivities of the customer and the company rep. and the time zones.
All in all, an integrated environment. for work, home and anything else that engages you in your life.
Yogi Berra wasn't kidding when he said, "when you come to a fork in the road, take it." Because the two forks are really only one path.