Wrong solution?!

Posted on April 4, 2012 · Posted in Analysis and Opinion

I was talking to a young manager in a hi-tech company and she shared an interesting insight. She had recently been equipped by her company with a Smartphone, and it had decreased her stress level at home significantly, she happily stated. Why so? Because, she explained, she was no longer afraid to miss out on anything – she could check her email during the evening as often as she wanted in order to see if anything urgent had come up.

This is very interesting: before the arrival of the always-connected device, she couldn’t be connected – nor be on call – after hours. This should have been ideal: she could devote time to her family, she could relax, she could recharge for the next productive day. Best of all, nobody could blame her – there was no connectivity to the workplace, after all. But instead of relishing this highly desirable state (which is increasingly denied to knowledge workers these days) she felt so compelled to “stay connected” that she was anxious, lest something happen and it would have to wait for the next morning’s dose of email-checking. What is in fact an intrusion on her personal sphere had seemed to her a stress-reducing gift from heaven.

You might think that this diligent worker was a brain surgeon on call, or a firefighter; actually her job had no urgency in it. There was nothing in her tasks that could not comfortably wait a day or two…

And what’s more, even if her job were to involve urgent events, she could have addressed this by applying much better tools than proactively checking her mail throughout her evenings. For example, she could have given those coworkers or customers who might need her instant response her cellphone or home phone number, with the caution that these are only for emergency use. Or she could apply AwayFind (see my previous post on How to avoid email mania without annoying your customers). But her choice of solution had been to embrace the blurring of the Work/Life barrier.

Wrong solution?…