Tag Archives: Business

Work Time Shouldn’t Be On All The Time

Being in constant contact with work is not a good thing.

Oh, sure with the advent of e-mail and the Blackberry, being able to check your work e-mail while home was seen as a good thing. You could point to how indispensable you were because work had to be able to contact you at all times.

You could surprise people by having the response to their end-of-the-day e-mail on their desk the very next morning by the time they got in because you answered it at 11 pm before you went to bed.

The problem with the situation we’ve created is that now folks expect you to respond instantly. You are expected to be in constant contact with work, to never be off the clock.

And that, dudes, is not a good thing. I’m not the only one who thinks so.

Last Saturday a friend of mine was compulsively checking his cell phone just before 11pm when he saw an email from his boss that had come in minutes before. The note asked that my friend make a change to the company website. Since it was the middle of the weekend, he figured the chore could wait. But the next day at 10:30am the boss sent another email, demanding to know why my friend hadn’t done the task.

Susan Adams, a Forbes staff writer, brings news that researchers have found pretty solid evidence that checking your e-mail or even playing around with your futurephone during the evenings is a bad idea, health-wise.

A new paper by three business school professors reveals what most of us probably realize but have trouble acting on: Checking our smartphones after 9pm stresses us out, saps our energy and makes it tough to fall asleep. The paper goes on to say something few of us probably want to admit: Using our smartphones late at night to keep up with work has a hangover effect, depleting the vigor we would put into work the next day.

“Smartphones are almost perfectly designed to disrupt sleep,” said Russell E. Johnson, an assistant professor of management at Michigan State’s Broad College of Business, in a statement. Johnson admits to keeping his smartphone at his bedside at night. “Because they keep us mentally engaged late into the evening, they make it hard to detach from work so we can relax and fall asleep,” he added.

According to a relatively recent study, more than half of all adult Americans own a futurephone of some kind. That number is only going to get higher, which means that the number of adults who feel they have to be available to their work every hour of every day of every week of every year is only going to rise.

This sort of constant-on behavior leaves us no time to relax, no time to recharge our mental energies. It’s exhausting, in more ways than one.

Imagine you’re raising a tiny baby dude now, in this sort of environment. What will she think growing up when she realizes that you will only play with her until the boxy thing in your pocket bleeps at you and then you put her down and pick it up? Is your child really second-fiddle to a futurephone?

I realize it’s not necessarily the futurephone holding you hostage, but the working environment that it represents. And, certainly, no one person can say, “This far and no further. The line must be drawn and it must be drawn here.” and stop the whole cycle.

But maybe, dudes. . . Maybe if enough of us were to point to the health and workplace deficits inherent in the current always-on system. . . Maybe then we could make a change for the better.


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One Is The Loneliest Number, And Also The Number Of Bills In Your Wallet

Loneliness doesn’t only prey on your soul, dudes, but it also might prey on your finances.

I thought about this as I was down in Florida basking in the sun, the surf and the good friends, along with the memories they bring and the memories we form each year.

It’s not like I have a life filled with friends. I’ve got acquaintances, and lots of them, but very few actual, close friends. And that’s rather the way I like it.

Which means that I’m not all that lonely, for which I am thankful quite often.

And a good thing, too. Because, according to some rather recent research, people who define themselves as lonely are more likely to make risky financial decisions.

People who feel socially excluded tend to make riskier financial decisions than their popular peers. The effects are so marked, says the scientist who led these studies, that major financial decisions such as choosing a mortgage or pension should never be made in the wake of a major social upset, such as a relationship break-up or even a serious argument with friends.

Rod Duclos, assistant professor of marketing at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, said the findings, which he presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association in Hawaii, “should come as a word of caution to consumers” and singled out older people as being particularly vulnerable.

Many patients find that it’s a good idea to bring along a friend for an especially important medical appointment, someone who can listen with a bit more detachment to what the doctor is saying. This second pair of ears can often hear the important things that a more emotionally involved patient might miss.

In the same manner, Duclos recommended that people might want to bring along a friend to important financial appointments. Not so much as to provide a second set of ears and eyes, as in the medical model, but so that the feeling of belonging could combat any sense of loneliness, which leads to making risky decisions.

There’s your practical application. But what’s really going on here?

Duclos explains that in a world where there are two basic means to get what we want, popularity and money, the unpopular place a stronger emphasis on cash to smooth their path through life, and are thus more willing to take big risks that carry bigger potential rewards. His findings add to a series of studies from all over the world, showing that our love affair with money varies according to how socially connected we feel.

Compared with the “in-crowd”, those who feel socially adrift are less inclined to donate to needy orphans, show a stronger desire for money, and feel more anxious when thinking about their last spending spree. The lonelier you are, the more likely you are to splash out on accessories signifying group membership, such as branded clothing or leisurewear with sport logos, to boost a sense of belonging. Fascinatingly, that anxiety and stress can be partly relieved by allowing people to touch real money.

A very important bit of advice there. I’m thinking the young dudes and dudettes might need to be insulated from this a bit. Not that we should sit them down and tell them they need to make sure they’re popular so they will make good financial decisions, or, even worse, the opposite. Can you imagine?

“Son, you’re not a popular kid. In fact, most of the other dudes run the other way when you come near. So I’d like you to be especially careful when you decide to spend or make money. Okay? Good talk. Good talk.”

Bad parent. No cookie for you.

Still, it might be something for us, as parents and as people, to keep our eyes on.

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. . . To Unintended Humiliation And Consequences

Anonymity does not exist on the internet. Search hard enough, search long enough and what you seek will be found.

Because everything you ever put up on the internet, at whatever time you put it up and wherever you put it up. . . It’s all still out there for anyone with a little diligence to find. No matter how stupid. No matter how embarrassing. It’s all still there.

Which is bad enough when you find a picture of your little dude or little dudette acting like an idiot, but it’s even worse when your cherished child tries to get hired for a job and has to explain away a series of pictures of him smashed out of his gourd on questionable substances and then bragging about it to all his friends.

Let me give you dudes a little example. Zippy the College Boy had been taking to venting to his Facebook friends whenever he was upset with his mom or me. At one point, he’d even told one of us to. . . well, let’s just say it wasn’t nice. Eventually, he apologized for “saying” that, but not for the forum in which he expressed his anger-fueled views.

And that’s the problem. Then, he didn’t see that what he said in anger on a public forum could ever come back to haunt him. At which point, I asked him how he would explain this certain passage to a future employer.

“Oh, please,” he scoffed. “They’d never find it. I mean, do you know how many (Zippy the College Boy’s) there are out there?” (At this moment, I should probably state for the record that Zippy the College Boy is not his real name. I know. Bit of a shocker, but there it is. During this conversation, he used his real name, which is a bit more generic.)

He actually thought there was safety in numbers, but he forgot one important detail. When he is applying for a job, when anyone is applying for a job, the prospective employer will be requiring important personal details like birthdate, place of birth, social security number, etc. etc. With all that info, it’s an absolute snap to find the right you and see all you’ve been dumb enough to post to public and whoops-I-thought-those-were-private fora throughout the years.

Think before you post, especially if you’re looking for a job. Seems like common sense, doesn’t it? Yet despite all the advice and warnings to be cautious with social media, job applicants continue to get burned by their online profiles.

Many companies now search candidates’ social-media accounts to get a better feel for their personalities, to see if they have creative flair, and to find out how well they communicate. 

Vanessa Wong, from Bloomberg Businessweekposted a great column on this a while back. She talked about a recent survey of more than 2,000 hiring managers. According to the survey, about one-fifth of the respondents said the applicant’s social history actually helped them to get a job.

More often, though, it backfires: 43 percent said they found information that led them not to hire a candidate, up 9 percentage points from last year. That trend means either that more job applicants are behaving badly online or that human resources is getting stricter in sniffing out problems.

Among the problems these hiring managers mentioned: racy photos, boozing photos, horribly written posts, intolerance, evidence that shows the applicant was lying about qualifications, and crazed ranting (hello, Zippy the College Boy!).

They’re all bad news when you’re looking to be hired, but that last one. . . Hoo, boy. Imagine you go off on your current boss on Facebook or Twitter. And then your next prospective employer reads about it. Do you think she’s going to want to hire someone who takes such savage glee in roasting an employer? Most likely not, yo.

Parents, don’t panic. This simply is another part of the online privacy conversation we talked about yesterday.

We’ll talk more about that not-panicking thing on Monday.

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