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Can you Leave Work at the Office?

I previously talked about Device Explosion, where I highlighted the need to allow employees to point personalize their experiences just as we are trying to do for our customers.  Friend Mark Tamis commented on the post:

“Getting a new iPad from work is just as exciting as getting a good PC ‘back-in-the-day’. Now it make you more mobile, but these are still only access devices – the question is now what are they accessing and what is presented which helps the employee’s job-to-be-done. The ‘back-end’ is still more important than the ‘shiny new object’ device”

My answer to Mark is an answer he has probably heard me give a hundred times in the past few years: “Yes, but…” Here is my reasoning, there are secondary benefits to the device being owned by the employee. The benefits are that if it is a work device, then IT can control it, for one. Additionally, when I look at the device I think ‘ah, that is work’ and I turn it off. If the device is mine, then I might take it with me on the weekend, or late into the evening. Wait, who gets the benefit here? Maybe some expectation setting is in order.

Where is Work, Who is Personal?

The Mirror Image of bringing my device to work is that I never really leave the office, is this a good experience or bad. The other growing trend is that if I work at home, I really never leave the office. It is not even something the office is asking me to do either. If I use my device at work, there are bound to be work related items on the device, or in my personal cloud (Box, DropBox). Where is the work life balance? For me, I have a decent balance (not optimal, to be fair, but I am working on it), because I enjoy what I do, thus it does not feel like work (except meetings, they feel like work).

If work wants me to be more social at the office, does that mean I need to be less social at home? Yes, my tongue is squarely in my cheek with that comment, but it is something we need to consider. My peers are used to me send notes or publishing content at off hours, because when the mood strikes, I write – On my device. I do have a bit of a rebellious streak, I admit it. My first reaction to being told to do something is not a cheery as it probably should be in most cases.

Fast Company posted an interesting article, regarding work life balance and “keeping the lines of communication open” an interesting phrase to use.

“Decide what you really expect in terms of response and connection. Part of the problem is that leaders are so busy using technology to manage their own work/life balance that they haven’t thought about what they actually expect from their team. The leader who emailed from the bus at 5:00 a.m. told everyone that if he really needed them he’d call their mobile phones. If an email was priority, he’d identify it. Otherwise feel free to respond whenever they can.”

Just because you write an email at 5am, do you want to be expected to respond to an email at 5am? Does your team know your expectations? (As mentioned in the FC article) You might be comfortable with your own work life balance, but is this true for your direct reports or others in the organization? These topics might not immediately seem tightly coupled, but they are. The work life balance, what is work and what is personal is becoming grey at best. As organizations of all sizes work to ‘get more social’ this is going to increasingly be a bigger and bigger concern.

Take the time to turn off, unwind, put the device away – #justsayin

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet.

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