New Tech and Work/Life Balance

As we get older, our jobs evolve from the 40 hours of community service you do to get bill money to one of our defining traits. At the same time, the technology we use to communicate in the workplace has begun merging with the technology we use to be social. The line has blurred in apps and websites that were used strictly for friends and family: social media now has LinkedIn, instant messaging has Slack, and it has even become common to text coworkers directly. The combined effect of the importance of our careers to our self-image and the “casual-ization” of the workplace has led to a all-consuming workplace culture. While businesses never officially support working in off-hours, working from home has become rampant in competitive careers. The idea that “if you’re not working, you’re behind the game” is a strong driver for using as many daily hours as possible towards work, as is remote accessibility to work files. Because we can work extra, it means we usually do.

But what effect does the go-go-go of a career have on us?

ViralUproar

The most obvious downside to keeping yourself in work mode all day is that you have little time to relax. This can affect sleep effectiveness, as “the glowing blue light from your phone tells your brain to wake up, not rest,” and the added stress of trying to perform well on work tasks doesn’t help. When productive energy is spread over 24 hours rather than the usual 8-hour workday, the overall effectiveness of workers is greatly reduced. The result of this is that rather than helping the company progress, they simply make it look like more work is being done — not useful in the least, data that is backed up by a study by Wright et al. which states that communicating with fellow employees while away from work can have a dramatic effect on stress levels.

It’s clear that bringing work home is detrimental, so how do we stay useful while giving ourselves off-time?

Mike Tewkesbury

For one, keep work at work. As Purple Frog says, “there is nothing that happens after 8pm that cannot wait until morning.” Unless you’re a doctor, you don’t need to always be on-call for work. Of course there are emergencies, but since there are a hundred different ways to reach you coworkers can get your attention if they’re really desperate, but it’s not your job to watch out for them. Most importantly, keep in mind that hours worked is probably the least important measurement of your work effectiveness. Mark Garcia agrees that “it’s an obnoxious habit” to use your hours at work at a boast of your success. The only thing that matters is results, and you’ll get the best results by using your work time for hard work, and your relaxation times for easy rest.

In conclusion, the key to being successful without exhausting yourself is simply this: moderation. Know when to work and know when to play, and it’ll keep you from being a dull boy.

Got any tips for keeping work away from home? How do you keep your work/life balance in check? Share with me in the comments!

References

García, M. (2016, June 15). Work smarter, not harder. Retrieved September 22, 2016, from https://medium.com/@majestyk/work-smarter-not-harder-dd0bad659d88#.qhigbe2vp
McHugh, M. (2016). How much is your sleep worth? Retrieved September 22, 2016, from https://theringer.com/how-much-is-your-sleep-worth-1b311d0d6ea4#.74zu9r4hd
Purple Frog. (2016). Are you due a holiday? The why and how to switch off from work. Retrieved September 22, 2016, from https://medium.com/@PurpleFrogUK/are-you-due-a-holiday-the-why-and-how-to-switch-off-from-work-caa6f22523ec#.vwh8m1gbm
Wright, K. B., Abendschein, B., Wombacher, K., O’Connor, M., Hoffman, M., Dempsey, M., . . . Shelton, A. (2014). Work-related communication technology use outside of regular work hours and work life conflict: The influence of communication technologies on perceived work life conflict, burnout, job satisfaction, and turnover intentions. Management Communication Quarterly, 28(4), 507–530. doi:10.1177/0893318914533332

References for media

Guy laying down with a phone. (2016). In ViralUproar. Retrieved September 22, 2016, from http://www.viraluproar.com/guy-laying-down-with-phone/ (Originally photographed 2016)
Tewkesbury, M. (2008, July 17). Stress relief!!!! In Flickr. Retrieved September 22, 2016, from https://flic.kr/p/55AMbS (Originally photographed 2008, July 17)