Getting some live back in the live/work balance

13 Jun

Cellphone use gone wild!1992

Your home phone rings on Saturday and you answer. You discover to your surprise that it’s a client or co-worker or boss with a question about work. You remind the caller that it’s Saturday and ask if this can’t wait until Monday.

You hang up, shaking your head.

2012

Your mobile buzzes on Saturday to alert you that you have an email from a client or co-worker or boss and you stop everything to check it and respond. (You may even walk into a shopping mall water fountain as you do so.)

You pocket your smartphone and look guiltily at your kids, or your partner at the altar (who’s texting someone at that moment anyway), or the security guard fishing you out of the fountain.

I’m not going to lament the difference twenty years makes (not in this post anyway). But as the world economy continues to contract, and technology frees us up to do even more with fewer people, our jobs are relentlessly taking over our private time. Can an employee expect anything in return beyond keeping staying employed?

Shouldn’t our private life be permitted to encroach exponentially into our work? I think businesses need to be receptive to the idea of redressing some of the inbalance.

That might include things like:

  • Flex-hour work schedules, since you are clearly already getting flexible with when you are available.
  • The option to work from home when it’s possible to so do – and get paid for it this time.
  • Being able to bring your kid or dog to work. They’re the ones who suffer most by your 24/7 on-call work ethic.
  • Celebrating your religious/cultural holidays and making sure you have them off if that’s important to you.
  • Being encouraged to pursue your passion projects during slower times. Hey that strategy led to 3M getting PostIt notes and reflective license plates!
  • Finding your favourite bevvie waiting in the office fridge. (We all know that responding to work emails on the weekend negatively affects drinking time.)

Let’s face it, the camel’s nose is in the tent already and it’s only going to get worse. Businesses…step up!

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6 Responses to “Getting some live back in the live/work balance”

  1. Carol June 13, 2012 at 5:42 pm #

    First point: “you stop everything to check it and respond”. So, don’t. Problem solved!

    Second point: There are some employers who would say that encroaching on personal life is actually redressing the imbalance (don’t touch that m; it’s spelled correctly) that has always existed in the opposite direction. According to the social media updates that crowd my In Box, one colleague is viewing hilarious videos during office hours, another is writing a personal blog, another is organizing a going-away party, another is finishing a freelance job. Theoretically, we could all be out there growing the company during slower times — instead of pursuing our passion projects, as you suggest. But we work like lunatics when we’re busy, so we find a little balance when we’re slow. And we answer the phone on the weekend. It’s a trade-off. Works for me.

    • Doug Brown June 13, 2012 at 6:21 pm #

      Very interesting comment Carol. As technology, the Internet and social media come into play, there is an entirely new dynamic at work. Employees building personal brands online can lead to company growth. There has definitely been a blurring of the lines between work and private time: it’s not such a clear cut case anymore.

      As to the First Point: I know, but I still can’t help myself! More of that blurring.

  2. Anna June 14, 2012 at 6:37 am #

    If you do not reply or check your email on the weekend some one else will. It is expected you are available, if you are not then they will simply find someone who will be. So you do have a choice but it’s not really a choice, not if you have kids, house and mortgage etc.

    • Doug Brown June 14, 2012 at 10:09 pm #

      I haven’t had that experience Anna, but I like my smartphone and find it easy to look at it. I suppose the real test would be if we still had only dial phones! I know you remember those…

  3. hotelgoddess June 16, 2012 at 7:15 am #

    very interesting perspective and so true. While technology does make it easier to stay connected we must respect the time away from work. thank you

    • Doug Brown June 16, 2012 at 1:59 pm #

      They have to stop making the technology so much damn fun then Angela! Great to have a comment from you on my blog. Thanks for reading.

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