So my massively-hard-working supervisor is on vacation…
…and won’t stop working. Seriously. The team still receives emails sent from smartphones by the supposedly-relaxing.
And for whatever reason, I always encounter this situation. Regardless of the job, organization, or industry. Maybe it’s because birds of a feather flock together. Because I certainly don’t seem to stop!
Apparently, I’m not alone. According to one Microsoft survey, fully 47% of the respondents have worked while ostensibly on vacation. Meanwhile, another survey has shown that 54% of respondents have bosses that actually, sincerely expect them to work during vacation. With the proliferation of cloud-based computing and inexpensive high-speed internet access, I guess the only real surprise there is that both figures aren’t higher.
I’m not so sure that that’s necessarily a good thing though.
The North American work-life balance is askew
Not too long ago, it was found that Canadians’ work-life balance was getting worse than ever. Similar results appear in the United States. More people than ever were bringing work home, and satisfaction with life was dropping. Now, the major recession of recent years certainly contributed to this state of affairs. However, it’s disingenuous to ignore the fact that technology makes it easier than ever to stay plugged in to work even when you’re out of the office and far, far away from work.
The Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) trend is exacerbating the lack of disconnect between work and personal lives. BYOD is effectively “enabling” employees to work more and, in some cases, pay out of pocket for that privilege. So…does anyone else see the issue with this statement? It’s costing employees to do more work for their companies. In a logical world, it really, really, really should be the other way around.
Beyond the obvious problem with this, well, problem, there are a few other issues that employer and employee alike need to consider.
Billion dollar losses, poorer actual productivity, and threat to life and limb…
There are serious security concerns and financial threats to be considered. Especially if BYOD is the means through which the extra work is enabled. Certainly, there’s great convenience in being able to work from the beach (or anywhere else, for that matter). However, you have to remember – theft (or outright robbery) becomes a very big issue.
Think about it – if personal devices (smartphones and laptops) are powerful enough to do professional-grade work (or are just pretty enough), then it’s a juicy target for thieves. Smartphones, especially, are most often stolen if the devices are left out in the open. And even if they aren’t stolen, many are lost. The value of lost laptops in the US is $2.1 billion USD.
And that’s the technology side of things. What about the human dimension? The thing about working more is that you aren’t necessarily producing a greater volume of high-quality output. In fact, if anything, those extra hours that you’re putting in just might be resulting in lower-quality work. Employers should take notice. Some certainly have.
Banks on Wall Street are telling their analysts to take the weekends off. The fact that this is newsworthy really should tell you something about how seriously entrenched overwork has become. The fact that banks – organizations who are experts in making money – actually see value in making sure their employees are rested, really should be a warning sign for employers who push their staff way too hard for way too long.
And it really shouldn’t be hard to puzzle out why this may be. By working ever-longer hours, you’re increasing your fatigue, which in turn worsens your judgement and efficiency. Basically, you’re getting less intelligent the more overtime you do. That’s hardly a glowing endorsement for overwork. After all, employees who aren’t at their best won’t be bringing the most value to their job. And in worst-case scenarios, overwork literally kills employees.
The final word for now…
We should all work hard – where’s the fun in slacking off? That said, we really do need to take breaks after a while. It’s the healthy, sensible thing to do. And the quality of our work will be just that much better if we do it while we’re at our best.
If you have any anecdotes about how technology has impacted your work-life balance, we’d love to hear it. Post them in the comments section below! In the meantime, if you want ideas on how to automate your business processes and reduce your personnel’s workload, contact us at Cimpl. We’re Canada’s leader in IT and telecom expense management, and we can help you work smarter (so that you can rest better)!