We are expected to be reachable at all times. Research shows this is damaging to productivity, engagement and is putting higher levels of strain on teams. Both employers and employees have a responsibility to set guidelines and actively dissuade the development of the always accessible culture within your organisation.
But first, let’s look at the positives.
With the advancement of technology, we can now be in two places at once. This opens the possibility to more flexible working hours, the option to work out of the office, to be able to pick up the kids or hit the gym at a more sensible hour. It means being able to take a day out of the office here and there without being isolated from the running of things. Studies suggest this attracts millennials. Working 9-5 in an office every day is something from the bygone era, according to a survey sent to young people between the ages of 18-25.
The option to work flexibly, for them, is a must. So - all good so far, but when we begin to dig deeper, we see that technology can be a double-edged sword. The expectation to be always ‘on’ can find to be very overwhelming and the line between work and life begins to blur. Me for example, I found myself unable to stop thinking about the list of potential emails sat next to my bedside table as I try to sleep. When settling down to watch the latest episodes of Suits, I find my fingers slowly edging their way towards my laptop (Nobody should have Suits interrupted, ever!) With the advancements in technology, it seems there are some wins and some losses to our flexibility and our ability to manage a healthy work-life balance.
My advice to you?
It is important to set boundaries. Ensure your time off is time off and be disciplined in the hours you do out of the office. Yes, work from home. Yes, do a couple of hours in the evenings if you must. But when you are done, turn off, unplug and leave work at work.
Other things to do to conquer the technological temptation:
- Get a real alarm clock so you can turn your phone off
- ‘Lose’ your laptop charger (just kidding)
- Set yourself clear and reachable goals and when these have been achieved, switch off
- Allocated strict times for work and home and stick to it!
Leave the house and don’t take your phone (or get one of those unbreakable old Nokia’s that don’t have internet or 4G, you can only call. If you want to send a message, make sure you set aside five hours to battle old-school texting.)
Work can provide tools and implement a culture of boundaries to help manage our work-life balance. Well rested employees with lower stress-levels are and will always be happier, more productive and successful at work. And, when it comes to attracting and retaining quality staff, having the tools in place to promote a healthy work-life balance is extremely beneficial for your organisation.
Written by Helen Turnbull, a Senior Conference Producer at Liquid Learning.