Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Columns

July 7, 2014

CONFER: Employers don't need 24/7 access to workers

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Wireless technology has been a boon to the business world in the 21st century, as it gives businesses unprecedented access to their clients while considerably speeding up various functions of their operations. 

That same technology has also been a bane to many workers. The ubiquitous smartphone has become a ball and chain, weighing them down and making them accessible to their bosses, customers and the grind of work at all hours of the day and night.

In my personal and professional dealings I have witnessed far too many people frustrated, even burned out, over the unfettered access that their employers have to them. I’ve had many a meeting interrupted by someone’s phone going off. I’ve watched as my friends have had to take calls or answer emails long after they’ve left the office. Twenty-four-seven access can sap the enjoyment out of work and life in general.

Surveys have shown that after the close of a typical workday, 40 percent of white-collar workers remain connected right ‘til the next day. Other studies have shown that people just can’t get away, even when they are away. More than 80 percent stay connected to the office while on vacation, checking in at least once a day. Forty percent check in multiple times a day.

It’s an epidemic and it’s not just Corporate America that’s to blame. I’ve seen small businesses and non-profits exert the same amount of unnecessary pressure on their workers.

No one can rest (or are misled to believe so). If they do, they are blasted by their supervisors or ripped by their customers. Many workers are willing participants in this mess, feeling guilty if they haven’t checked their emails or messages in the evening or on the weekend.

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