October 6, 2008
Is technology making your job more flexible or just increasing your workload?
This summer, I wrote a post called Is work/life balance dead, or is it just being redefined by technology? Many of you had a lot to say on the topic.
It's no surprise that 62 percent of U.S. employees with full-time or part-time jobs use the Internet or e-mail on the job, as the Pew study reports.
Nor will it come as a shock that 58 percent of these employees said that, thanks to webmail and mobile devices, they have more flexibility in the hours they work. While the study doesn't say as much, we all know employees who trim their commuting time by working from home at least a few hours a week (a morning here, an afternoon -- or even a Friday -- there).
I'm also guessing you won't be surprised to hear Pew found that, "One in five employed e-mail users and half of Blackberry and PDA owners say they are required to read and respond to work-related emails when they are not at work." And that the higher a person's salary, the greater the expectation that they'll stay connected after hours and on weekends.
What's disheartening -- though again, not much of a shocker -- is that nearly half the workers Pew surveyed said that due to the convenience of the Internet, e-mail, instant messaging, and mobile devices, the demands of their job have "intensified." And 16 percent of workers polled held technology responsible for increasing the demands of their job "a lot."
I've certainly noticed the changes over the years in my own work life. I won't even bat an eye now when a client or colleague sends me an e-mail with a matter they'd like addressed first thing Monday morning -- with a timestamp of 11 p.m. on Sunday night. Nor did it seem strange to me last week when a friend who left for ten vacation days in Europe brought his bulky laptop with him, just so he could "check in on how things were going back at the office," even though it wasn't expected of him. (I'm sure I would have done the same thing.)
So where do you stand on the tech continuum? Is being wired 24/7 making your work life easier (perhaps with added telecommuting privileges), or is it making it a living hell (thanks to the incessant chiming of your inbox after hours)?
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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