I think I really started to become aware of it about four years ago. I was working in HR for a major multinational organisation then.
I had my laptop with me, had finished dinner, and got back on-line and settled into some after-hours work. I was emailing a number of Managers both locally and interstate about various HR bits that I was helping them with, and I was getting an immediate response from a number of them.
While the HR issues were important (but not urgently pressing), and I appreciated their full engagement with me, I was quite amazed how many of us were on-line and working unusual hours at the same time.
More recently I had been working with a number of clients that said, “any time you want to get a hold of me, just call or text, even if it is after-hours or on a holiday”. Once again I appreciated their full engagement with me, but had assured them that I am now a believer that if it is after –hours or you are on a holiday I don’t believe folks should be bothered.
It is important to down tools (e.g. screen from various devices and the phone) and take a break.
Between newer technologies, working at home, flexible work arrangements, and an expectation that a great number of owners, leaders, and staff are there to help practically 24 X 7 has created, in my opinion, an often unhealthy work/life balance that doesn’t allow a number of workers to sufficiently re-charge to either reduce stress, improve health, or maximise work.
While speaking to a CEO of a reputable financial institution that I was doing an HR Audit for he interestingly said to me, “You know, for me work takes up the amount of time I make available for it.”
With all the time we are making available for work these days, maybe companies should consider bringing back an old custom.
Hey, let’s say we bring back the tea lady! (Oops….I meant to say the tea person).
Just think, maybe once in the morning, and once in the afternoon maybe a staff member(s) could act in the role to give others a little customary break and an opportunity to not be totally connected to some device.
They could organise some kind of tea, coffee or beverage for each staff member to just give them a little break to re-charge, get their thoughts together, have a quick chat with a colleague, or maybe spend a minute or two thinking about a suggestion they could put in the suggestion box that the tea lady (“doah”..I meant tea person) also brings around with him/her.
It may be nice to see in the list of employer benefits….”we have a tea person”…..