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.