When I write on this blog it’s ‘personal me’ I don’t comment specifically on the detail or content of my work here or on my Twitter account.

When I write for work (here) I try and open discussion on various issues to see what people think and encourage to conversation. The context is ‘professional me’ on behalf of my employer but with nuances of me as an individual. Last week ‘professional me’ asked a question to see if people thought Leeds was or could be a more sociable city. It led to a discussion suggesting there is “inherent tension between me as a person and as a representative of a (perceived) powerful organisation.”  I had to follow that up.

Tea and cake later, always a good way to be sociable, we’d discussed there will be an optimum time to start a conversation about launching a piece of work or a project. It may include those who may have tried similar things in the past, in order to learn from their experience. So when is work; work? When should the meter start and stop running for those who are not an on organisation pay roll and are contributing time or knowledge?

Part of my job is to meet people, seek their views and see how the land lies etc. This sometimes means it’s not the original 9 to 5 I signed up for many years ago, which suits me fine by the way. I don’t get overtime so I manage my hours accordingly and may put a few hours in over what is expected to do what is required. But some of the people I meet aren’t earning while they are talking to me, and that’s worth noting and respecting.

Discussions have to be relevant to people’s line of work for non salaried folk to take an interest and see the benefit in partaking. They will at some stage however need to see reward otherwise, unless they are participating in a personal capacity, what’s in it for them?

Something else that blurs the personal/professional boundary is I’m interested in what goes on in my city and where I live so I put personal time into going to events on an evening or at weekends. I might be seen as Phil from the council, when I’m actually Phil from Moortown/Meanwood and the other way round.

Use of my ID badge can help as can using different accounts/email addresses booking events on Eventbrite. Gravatars can assist so when we comment on blog posts it is clearer to see what context we are commenting from, personal or professional.

It’s an increasingly tricky one appreciating how, what and when things become work and who we are when we go places. That’s why in the above mentioned discussions I was suggesting more of a sociable approach to how people get together, promote and make the various things going on in our city happen. The bit before it gets to the ‘business’ part.

In all this uncertainty, one thing is certain. There will always be lines that need to be respected.

I’d be interested in others perceptions and thoughts on how they manage their personal/professional boundaries.