Is Work Media Invading Your Home Life?
People have always taken work home with them, but the boundaries between home and work are increasingly blurry. Ask some executives where they work, and they respond “Here!” (wherever they are), and ask them where they live, and they respond “In airports and airline lounges!”
Social media and modern devices enable us to be constantly connected and updated. This is wonderful for employers, who stand to benefit if their executives are always on duty and always available. In fact, many people are often connected in more than one way at a time! How many of us watch recorded shows with an iPad in their lap, and cell phone on the armrest? That’s 5-7 devices we use simultaneously: DVR, TV, computer, Wi-Fi, tablet, router, phone. Most smart phones give you at least 4 ways to communicate: Text, chat, e-mail and phone. Is this good, or too much?
On my driving vacation this summer, when my wife was at the wheel, I had my iPad and smart phone in my lap, hoping for a decent Verizon 3G signal. She wasn’t too happy about it! One day, in a national park, she went on a hike, while I sat in the car and closed a deal, just because I had cell strength in that particular parking area! Yes, company owners may have an extra burden of being available, or a willingness to make themselves more available, but I can’t tell you it is a better way of life.
Being constantly available means that Work/Life balance ceases to be a goal. If work can always intrude on the rest of our “life” (family, friends, exercise, hobbies, relaxation, restoration, rest), and we never let up or let go, is it good for our health?
Human Resources Executive Magazine has an article this month about how some companies are trying to help their employees reduce stress. They report that work-related stress is on the rise, and forward thinking companies are doing many things to help, including asking their employees what they need. I wonder how many say “I just need boundaries!”
I think Work/Life Balance (and boundaries) are critically important, and even when recruiting, I listen carefully to what might push candidates over the edge on stress, and seek ways to mitigate this.
Gen Y and Millenials only know connectedness. They don’t even know another way to live. The cliché of families texting each other at the dinner table, or texting friends while talking to family has invaded every sitcom on TV.
Fortunately, the choice is ours individually. Each of us can decide how connected we’re willing to be, and how to establish boundaries that work for us, and keep our lives in balance. Reality check: Did you get interrupted while reading this? I got interrupted twice while writing it!