Thursday, October 17, 2013

Working Mom Confession: My Smart Phone May Be Swallowing My Life

Get Smart
Get Smart (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
"Are you working today – or just checking e-mail???" (sent by a colleague on a Saturday afternoon.)

As I referenced in my post about "National Flex Day", I have come to realize that smart phones are a great intrusion on our personal time and not the key to freedom. Indeed, we are constantly tethered to the office and our colleagues and supervisors often expect constant access to us.

         Where I work there are often extended email exchanges after 8:00PM and over the weekend. I am not so impressed by the initial sender. If they are like me, they probably sent the email to ensure that they didn't forget. I am really impressed by those who respond and engage in banter at 10:00 PM. Were they waiting with expectancy to receive an email? Or were they also in the process of sending off messages to people to avoid a costly memory lapse?

With the work day constantly encroaching on our private time it appears that we don't even know how to define, "work time". Indeed, when I responded to an email from a colleague on a Saturday afternoon she responded, "Are you working today – or just checking e-mail???" It is as if we have redefined our lives. I am confused, when did checking email cease to constitute "working"???

I am as guilty about it as everyone else. I was on email on Saturday and Sunday and back at my desk bright and early Monday morning. So, in essence, I gave my company more of my time, but got nothing in return.

I have a proposal; those with smart phones should push the envelope and engage in crucial conversations with their supervisors. If it is expected that you spend two hours a night on email after working a 9 or 10 hour day, shouldn't that be recognized somehow? Working smarter was supposed to be about flexibility and the smart phones were supposed to give us the ability to do more without requiring more resources and to liberate us from our desks.

If we don't push it, we may find that we remain shackled to our desks during work hours and shackled to our phones after hours. That sounds like a lot of things, but smart isn't one of them...
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