Work Life Balance – Has Technology Helped or Hurt?

I happened upon an article on FastCompany.com which stated “30% of U.S. workers who employ technology as part of their jobs feel the need to maintain a digital link to their employer at all times.”  The article also stated, “Technology is supposed to facilitate one’s work experience, making tasks smoother and more efficient, not push work so far beyond a traditional 9-5 office-based lifestyle.”  In the end, the author concluded, ”Isn’t it time to tell your company that your life is your life, and work-based tech should be kept at work?”  So, has technology helped or hurt work life balance?

Whether it has helped or hurt depends on one’s role in the organization and the culture of the organization they work for.  For example, I worked for an organization that, because they offered no mobile technology access to email, etc. in order to get anything done, I had to be at the office.  This meant long hours, missing time with the family.  Now with a new company that has mobile technology solutions, I am able to wrap up things remotely, for example – on the sidelines before the soccer game starts, whereas before the technology solution, I missed the game entirely, because I physically had to be at work to do the job.  Now, I was in a management role, and there were certain expectations of management, however, a mobile solution does allow flexibility and allow me to be physically present.

The balance comes in determining what needs to be addressed immediately, and what can truly wait until the morning.  Do I really need the information tonight, or can I get it from my employee when they come in?  If I abuse the technology by making everything an emergency, then I have abused my employees work life balance.  But, if I shoot them a note/text to say, “In the morning, we need to finish up the report by 10:00 am” then I am respecting their time, and allowing them to plan their activities for the next day.

To those that say, “Well, work time is work time, and my time is my time” I counter with – so you’ve never done any personal work on company time?  If you can answer “Yes” to that, more power to you!  As much as we want to ‘compartmentalize’ our lives into neat and tidy buckets (work time, personal time, family time, etc.), in today’s society, that simply is unrealistic.

Truth is, if you’re in management / leadership role, there is a greater expectation of your availability, and yes, that can be 24/7.  However, smart managers know the balance between what’s needed now and what can wait.  So, if you keep getting emails/calls/texts from your boss at all hours wanting information immediately, the problem may not be with the technology, the problem may be with your boss.

What are your thoughts?

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2 thoughts on “Work Life Balance – Has Technology Helped or Hurt?

  1. If you get a chance, check out Ricardo Semler’s “The Seven-Day Weekend: Changing the way Work Works.” Awesome book on this subject. Not that I’ve been able to make as much use of it as I would like.

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