OK - #1, I know it's been FOREVER since I have written anything. There are no excuses for that except life got in the way. #2, in a effort to get back into things, I am, again, reprinting a blog post I made on another, personal, blog back in 2009. I like this piece a whole lot and thought you might to. Enjoy!
Recently, a friend of mine was telling me how the manager of his organization was emailing his boss on his personal blackberry at 8pm on a Sunday regarding work related issues.
8pm on a Sunday.
I immediately thought, "what is wrong with this person?" But then, I stopped for a moment and thought about how many times I would turn on my laptop on Sunday evening just to get through some of the emails that had come in that week, and to check and see what my boss had sent to me that weekend.
What has technology done to us?
So many places, including my place of business, preach work/life balance but a balance only works if everyone is a willing participant. Case in point, the manager I referenced above. I asked how old this individual was and found out that they were around my age... early 30s. This little factoid explained so much to me. See, I like to refer to my generation as the "transition generation." We know, even if it's just vaguely, what a black and white television set looks like. We know what life was like before the remote control or the cordless telephone. We had 4 bit, 8 bit & 16 bit video games and were perfectly content. We did not have a cell phone in high school and most of us were happy with a pager in college. We were also just learning what email and the internet were by that time as well.
One of the things that we don't know a lot about, though, is business without a blackberry. We came into the business world hitting the ground running with 24/7 access to, pretty much, whatever information we wanted. Our bosses wanted us to work from home and be available whenever they wanted us to because the technology was available and it was all so fresh and new.
And so we did... because we didn't know anything else.
We've never experienced a time where work actually took place Monday - Friday, 9 - 5, you didn't work on Saturdays and Sundays because no one else did and no one could reach you and people actually had Thanksgiving and Christmas off. We only know a world where work begins when you wake up in the morning and you check your blackberry/iPhone/Palm/etc. and ends when you finally decide to go to sleep.
And so, we allowed it to happen because we thought that was how business works. We didn't have a manual for how to adjust business to the new technology. No one was there to tell us that you could turn off the cell phone. Everyone was learning and there was no one guiding.
That's where, in my opinion, this manager is coming from. It's all they know. And because that's all they know, they expect everyone else to fall in line. So they do regardless of what they think is right or what history dictates. Instead of saying, "let's discuss this when we get to the office" they discuss it right then when they should be sitting down with their family for dinner.
Mind you, this is all said with the understanding that extenuating circumstances arise and, when you are at a high enough level, decisions need to be made at odd hours. Emergencies need to be dealt with appropriately. What I am trying to say is that living a work life like everything is an emergency is only going to wear you and your employees out.
Humans were not made to live to work. We were made to work to be able to live.
The point I am trying to make is that we need to try to find more of a balance. We need to start thinking about what our priorities really are. Sure, the job gives you the money that allows you to live, but, when you need it the most, it will be the first to abandon you. Your famiily won't and more importantly YOU won't. We need to take care of ourselves more and start making ourselves the priority, not the job.