This year the topic of ‘tech addiction’ has been a cause of much debate. With smartphones and tablets glued to our hands wherever we go, the industry is asking: are we really able to switch off outside of working hours? The Quality of Working Life Report from the Chartered Management Institute earlier this year asserts that ‘always on managers’ are now working 29 extra days a year and are suffering from rising levels of stress as a result. Many media outlets have echoed these findings, stating that modern working now includes an obsession with the nonstop checking of emails.
The fact that many people are addicted to ‘always on’ culture these days is definitely something to be concerned about, however, ‘always on’ culture may actually be due to procrastination rather than work. Dependency on social media for leisure purposes – not emails or real time collaboration tools used for work – could be the main cause.
Whatever the reasons, the phenomenon of never ‘switching off’ can and should be replaced by effective working, and effective working is actually made possible through flexible collaboration tools.
‘Anytime, anywhere’ capability means that you don´t need to use your laptop outside working hours – smartphones and tablets provide the same functionality and user experience. Being able to check emails and access work-related information outside of working hours can often be more beneficial than it is stress generating. If you can’t address certain matters in office hours, rather than hovering in a state of anxiety until the following working day, checking in whenever you want can help resolve issues more quickly. By extension, work-related doubts that cause stress in personal time can be alleviated quicker than ever before.
Modern collaboration tools help people better reconcile professional life with personal life because these tools provide additional flexibility that, if wisely used, can bring benefits to both employers and employees. This may sound like the exception rather than the rule but there is no reason why it has to be.
Developing and fostering self-discipline is key – that has been true in all environments throughout the ages, not just with regard to modern technology – but a corporate cultural change is also needed, to make sure workers don’t feel pressured to be constantly online. With a little more flexibility in business, and a lot more flexibility in tools, employees can strike a healthy balance and kick their tech addiction once and for all.