Professional boundaries define effective and appropriate interaction between professionals and the public they serve, and exist to protect both the Professional and the Client. Boundaries also protect the relationships between same level colleagues and to ensure authority is not abused in positions of power. In my experience, boundaries are not well understood and are the cause of many "sticky" issues that simply could have been avoided with a bit of knowledge. "Boundaries" need to named and understood clearly if an organisation or workplace is committed to the highest standards of professionalism.
Keeping your social life separate from work allows you and others to focus solely on what is important at work. There is no risk that we'll be judged at work for getting drunk at Jim's party last Saturday, and your secrets aren't going to spill out at morning tea and add themselves to the office gossip. Information about your private life can be abused and will compromise your credibility if it reaches the wrong ears - and it will... it's just a matter of time. Because Socialising is in a box called "let your hair down, have some fun and open up" you put yourself at risk of your behaviour being mentioned out of context when you are in your work box. When this happens your information is misused, and it breaks trust. For anyone who has been there - it's not a comfortable feeling. Essentially your private life should not impact on your professional life, but the smallest things can and do affect opportunities such as promotions etc. Socializing with members of staff that are in positions of power bring their own set of difficulties. Such relationships observed by other employees create segregation and mistrust of both parties. Managers are often required to "address" issues and "discipline" staff. The ability to effectively carry out these tasks is often severely compromised by the blurred boundaries, and as a result sends mixed messages to others - further breaking trust, and leading to more problems.
Every staff member has a responsibility to learn what appropriate professional/social boundaries are in order to protect themselves, their job and their future. How clear are you around this issue?