Technology is supposed to make our lives easier right? It should be bringing us greater convenience and saving us time. Mobile devices allow us to be connected everywhere. We can keep in touch with friends and family and find the latest news wherever we are, but the other side of the coin is that we are unable to disconnect. Our employers have a hotline to reach us. We are effectively always on call and the result is longer working hours than ever before.
Selling like hot cakes
Smartphones and tablets are leading the mobile technology charge. According to Flurry Analytics the Android and iOS platforms are the fastest growing consumer technology in history. Our adoption of smartphones and tablets is occurring ten times faster than the PC evolution, twice as fast as the Internet explosion, and three times faster than the social media craze.
If we look at smartphone penetration in the US, Nielsen Reports that 55.5 percent of mobile subscribers now have smartphones. A staggering 74 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds now own smartphones. While the meteoric growth is showing signs of slowing slightly, those figures are still going up.
Blurring the work-life balance
Smartphones and, to some extent, tablets, are blurring the line between our social lives and our work lives. We use mobile technology for both. That means that there is no cut-off point when we leave the office at the end of the day. It has always been commonplace for certain professionals, like doctors, to be on call, but mobile technology puts us all on call.
Not only are we always reachable, but we can also easily take work home with us. The urge to check up on emails is virtually irresistible, and the worst part is that we are doing it to ourselves. Every time we struggle to switch off, check our inboxes during dinner, or send that “quick response that simply can’t wait” while lying in bed, we create an expectation.
Is your job that important?
Let’s face it: Things aren’t really going to grind to a halt if that email goes unanswered until the morning. Where does that pressure come from? What’s the source of that little voice that persuades you to have one last look at your inbox as you lie in bed ready to sleep? Why do you feel compelled to have a quick look at your work email first thing in the morning when you’ll be there in an hour or two?
Employers are rubbing their hands with glee
The expectation that we will be right on top of everything the second it happens is growing, even in jobs that aren’t really time sensitive. The BYOD (bring your own device) trend is a real boon for employers. We are buying our own mobile technology and using it to stay connected to work for longer each day. The productivity boost and hardware savings more than compensate for the increased IT headache.
Perhaps it’s time we imposed a cut-off. Resist that urge to check your inbox again, focus on your family while you’re at home, don’t let work encroach. If we aren’t careful then that voluntary extension of the working day will soon become an expectation.