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“The pajama effect is the ability of those connected via digitally mediated communications such as telecommuters and online learners, to blend their private and public lives while remaining highly productive, as they work, play and learn online hence thriving in a flexible environment that is physically detached and where distractions and interruptions abound.”

Baggio & Beldarrain

The Pajama Effect is …..a psychological state…a frame of mind.  The effect is caused by changes in the way humans communicate which has influenced workplace conditions, expectations and opportunities.

The technologies are merely cattalos for change in the virtual environment. The real change has come about because of the way that human being now interact with each other. The effects the way we work play and live.  The digital environment is always everywhere and  ever-present. It is ubiquitous in its ability to reach us and for us to connect with it and anyone worldwide.   This environment has influenced how we react to each other and how we connect to each other. Basic interactions like shaking hands and looking a person in the eye have become meaningless.  The digital world is one of minimal physical contact and maximum “on time”. The technologies themselves however, although constantly changing and becoming more and more powerful are really a constant in the pajama effect. It is how people behave that is different. It is the interactions and expectations for each other that is changing and very rapidly at that.

The opportunities and unexpected consequences of functioning in this environment are revealing themselves to us all the time.   New ways of communicating and organizing ourselves and our interactions and schedules are revealing themselves to us all the time. The new environment allows us to define a new identity and persona. It allows us to observe others undetected and to learn and examine interactions without being recognized and in some cases totally incognito. Like Harry Potter and his invisibility cape we can float through the digital landscapes totally observed.

Virtual or digital is another way of describing a multi-dimensional social landscape where people connect with some device from some location near or far. What is missing is face to face meeting, what is present is commerce, the exchange of goods and services and most importantly social connection and relationships.

Telecommuting, work shifting, telemarketing, virtual conferencing and online learning are all just a part of the new social order. Certainly, connecting with these digital devices has given rise to a new way of doing things and this new way of doing things requires human being to act in very different ways. Some people are very successful and thrive in this new environment. Some are not so adaptable. After years of working, learning and teaching in this environment we became interested in what exactly made some people thrive and other people falter.   Observation told us that it had nothing to do with prior success in the f2f world. Nor was it necessarily related to age, or occupation or education.  There were critical components that were necessary behaviors in this new environment, and they seemed to come more naturally to some than to others.

There were different levels and different kinds of interactions. There was the individual worker or learner and success at that level. Then there was the virtual team, the virtual organization and the virtual society. At an individual level that was things that some folks were able to do with ease and others struggled with quite intensely. One thing I heard over and over again from folks new to working or learning in the digital world was it is overwhelming. It is just too much.  While other seemed to respond to the distractions, freedom and detachment in a very different way. To them it was very comfortable, very easy to combine work, play and life in this new environment. They responded much differently.

This is what we call Respond-ability and we will discuss this in detail in Chapter three and then in the rest of the book in even more detail. At the heart of respond ability is the ability to act. What do you do When  drop whatever  we are doing and answer, respond, text a message or reply to whatever or whomever has just contacted us….when you hear your Droid or iPhone beep? Your cell phone ring?  Your computer ping? Most of us react. We shift consciousness and respond to the device the intrusion of technology…the response to a stimulus.

The pajama effect is all about acting and not reacting. It is about being relaxed, private, controlled and successful in this new world.  The pajama effect as defined by us in a text book  was :“The pajama effect is the ability of those connected via digitally mediated communications, such as telecommuters and online learners, to blend their private and public lives while remaining highly productive as they work, play and learn online.”

The pajama effect was a change in human behavior. Certain skills or abilities that made this new world work and work very well indeed for some people.  Human behavior or the ability to act was certainly the driving force. But why did some people struggle so while others took to it like a fish in water?  People are social beings and in this new environment the social structure had been altered more than a little bit. The environment was in many ways dehumanizing, temporary, there were minimum human face to face interactions and a sense of overload, pressure and stress. Some folks loved it the flourished and to them it was worth all that they had to do because they had freedom, independence and self-rule. They were able to act.  They were able to manage the myriad or interactions, situations and jumbled situations that make up their lives and keep it under control. They were productive. In fact they were more productive than they had in a more traditional environment. They had freedom and they got more done.