Are You Allowing Technology To Stretch Your Working Day?

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Photo by spcbrass

Technology can be wonderful. You can work from anywhere, call anyone from anywhere, research any question at any time of the night or day.

But what happens when technology actually extends your work day?

The Good Old Days

Back before mobile technology, you went into an office or factory, did your job for the requisite hours, and went home. There was little question of bringing home work; unless you were a teacher with papers to grade or some other profession that had a lot of paperwork, work stayed at the workplace.

If you were needed during the off hours, you might be reachable at your home phone, but if not, there were no other options, short of sending the police after you.

These Days

Now we have mobile technology. We have unlimited long distance, small phones that travel with us everywhere, remote desktops to allow us to access computers from everywhere.

Including home.

Technology From Work

It’s really easy to blur the lines between work and home with this technology. It doesn’t matter your industry, or your job title.

Project managers get called in if the computer site goes down. Factory workers get called to discuss problems that occurred, for troubleshooting. Office managers check their emails on weekends so they see if something has to be handled before Monday.

Why Companies Like Mobile Technology

It is in the best interest of the employers to have access to their employees 24/7.

If you can deliver faster customer service by having someone answer a call after hours, it’s better for the business. If you can have people work longer hours by giving them a way to work from home, that’s more effort for the company (and if the worker is salaried, it’s essentially free, too). If you can handle things before they become issues, business runs smoother.

And the more accessible we are, the more business demands we be.

What Mobile Technology Does To Our Lives

But that doesn’t mean that it’s good for our lives.

How many of you have had to interrupt family time to take a phone call from work? Something that could have waited until the next day?

How many of you have worked from home after doing a full day in the office?

How many of you have had to tell your children/family/spouse you can’t be disturbed in the evening while at home because you are working?

The creeping of our work lives into our home lives via mobile technology is taking away the precious little time we all have outside of work to be more than an employee.

How To Regain Your Home Time

It is possible to regain your home time. Here are some things I do to keep the line unblurred:

  1. Don’t give work your cell phone number. If they insist that you have to be reachable, let them pay for cell service and carry two phones, and set firm boundaries about when you will answer. You can then leave the work phone at home when you are not to be called. One step further: I actually use Google Voice in the rare case that I have to give out my number – that way I can turn off calls from certain numbers if I wish.
  2. Have set working hours. Just because you are salaried doesn’t mean you have to work 80 hours a week. If overtime is required, set limits on it, or find another job. But don’t volunteer for overtime unless it is critical to your job function. Doing overtime to “get ahead” is a poor excuse for unpaid hours.
  3. Set limits at home. If you do have to work from home, set specific limits. If you say you will work one hour, honor that agreement and give time to your life after that. It is too easy to let the evening or weekend get frittered away just because you didn’t set a limit.

Technology has blurred the lines between home and work. Where do you stand? Do you take other measures to keep the two separate? Share below.

Photo by spcbrass