Thursday, July 3, 2014


Wireless technology has been a boon to the business world in the twenty-first century as it gives businesses unprecedented access to their clients while considerably speeding-up various functions of their operations.

That same technology has also been a bane to many workers. The ubiquitous smart phone has become a  ball-and-chain, weighing them down and making them accessible to their bosses, customers and the grind of work at all hours of the day and night.

In my personal and professional dealings I have witnessed far too many people frustrated, even burned out, over the unfretted access that their employers have to them. I’ve had many a meeting interrupted by someone’s phone going off. I’ve watched as my friends have had to take calls or answer emails long after they’ve left the office. 24/7 access can sap the enjoyment out of work and life in general.

Surveys have shown that after the close of a typical workday 40% of white-collar workers remain connected right till the next day. Other studies have also shown that people just can’t get away, even when they are away. More than 80% stay connected to the office while on vacation, checking in at least once a day. 40% check in multiple times a day.

It’s an epidemic and it’s not just Corporate America who is to blame. I’ve seen small businesses and non-profits exert the same amount of unnecessary pressure on their workers.

No one can rest (or are misled to believe so). If they do, they are blasted by their supervisors or ripped by their customers. Many workers are willing participants in this mess, feeling guilty if they haven’t checked their emails or messages in the evening or on the weekend.  

Why is this expected of everyone? Just because the technology exists, it doesn’t mean we should abuse it.

I have a policy at the plant, shared with my customers and suppliers, that says my coworkers are off-limits after hours, on the weekends and while on vacations. Much to the frustration of some of my clients, we don’t even give out my coworker’s cell phone numbers. 

We don’t want them to take their work home with them because quality of life is contingent on a good job and it’s also contingent on a life outside of that job. Plus, a rested employee, one who can maintain a decent personal life, is a better employee overall.

The rule at the office is, too, that our people must follow the same rules when dealing with our customers and suppliers. It’s the Golden Rule.

It may seem old-fashioned or outdated to some business managers since we live in a 24-hour world. But, everyone needs to realize that constant connectedness with cell phones, smart phones, Blackberries and the like is maybe a dozen years old. The business world did just fine before that and it will be just fine when today’s technology goes the way of the telegraph.

If we can do it with a 24/6 facility and products that are sold to and competing against companies from all over the world, you as employer can do it, too. If you keenly focus on what matters most during business hours --- high levels of effective customer service and the very best product quality – there is no need to harass employees after they’ve punched out for the day. There’s no need to subject your workers to the constant barrage of information and requests. Let them be people – and not just assets to your company – and you’ll find they’ll be more productive and they might even stay with you for a while.

Likewise, workers need to cut the ties when not at the office. How many of you glance at your aggravating smart phones and pine for simpler times? Those simpler times are just one power button away. Use it. Turn off the phone at night when trying to relax or spend time with your children. Be you on the weekends. Disconnect when on vacation.

The company will still be there the next day and so will the work -- get it done then.

From the 07 July 2014 Lockport Union Sun and Journal

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