There is no question about it, with the mainstreaming of social media and mobile technology, your employees are more highly connected than ever. Add the recent workplace trends of BYOD and remote working, and we have blurred the lines between work and leisure. We now experience almost zero transition between professional and personal lives — almost around the clock. This global connectivity is definitely opening doors to greater opportunity and productivity, but will there be fallout from non-stop connectedness? Are we already experiencing the negative side of never turning off?
The results of a recent provide food for thought on this issue, including the fact that 34 percent of U.S. workers find it difficult to stop thinking about work due to the ubiquity of current communication technology. That survey was done in 2013. Today, with technology even more embedded in our workplace and our personal lives, those numbers are surely higher.
Shaping employees’ ideas about a company
Advancements in technology are not going to slow down any time soon, and it will continue to plant its roots deeper and deeper into our day-to-day lives. At the same time, we need to take measures to manage it. As we move toward technology singularity, organizations will need to find ways to preserve some semblance of work-life balance for their employees. This will be one of the key factors in cultivating higher levels of employee job satisfaction and loyalty, turning your staff into true brand ambassadors. This is highlighted in Dell’s Evolving Workforce study, especially when looking at the future trend of working from home.
Google, for instance, has consistently been at the top of several “best places to work” surveys across the world due to their exceptional work culture. They prioritize employees’ work-life balance. Naturally, the tech giant is also known for their use of technology in the workplace. So, how do they successfully maintain that elusive mix of the latest technology and work life balance? The key is to hit the right note between the two. Here’s how:
With an increased level of connectedness, employees are often expected to be more productive. In fact, with the incessant flow of workplace communication to our everyday gadgets, employees are constantly reminded of an unread email, an unfinished task, or a notification from a team member. These reminders populate our personal devices even during off-hours. Think about it. How many emails do you check when you are away from the office and on the go? They probably do not have your full attention — you may even miss important details while juggling your coffee and your toddler. It stands to reason that not only do these after-hour emails lead to distracted communication and stressed employees, but they also hamper the personal relationships of those responding.
One reason for an “always on” mentality is that some organizations set the bar too high when it comes to expecting productivity from their hyper-connected employees. This is a very skewed notion of “productivity” as it rejects the importance of life outside of work. Instead, organizations should strive to create results-oriented environments that don’t set unrealistic expectations of their employees and their working hours. Set goals. Let employees know they have to reach them monthly or weekly. And then set them on their way. Trust your staff to be adults when it comes to their work hours, and don’t force them to be ‘clock punchers.’ If goals are being met, they should be applauded, regardless of where or when thy completed that work.
Promote tech for achieving work/life balance
As a tech-immersed generation, it’s difficult for us to remember that technology is a tool. It really has become “part of the family.” Make sure employees know they don’t have to be tethered to their tools. Perhaps set that example yourself, as team leader or CEO. Be a role model, and stress the fact that they can stay productive without compromising the choices, duties, and joys of the personal life all individuals are entitled to. Companies need to be considerate when it comes to how technology is used, and business leaders must adopt a “put myself in their shoes” mentality to provide employees more freedom and greater balance between life and work.
Allow tech to support personal life
Companies can consider policies that allow employees to deviate from a rigorous 9-5 schedule. For instance, use of proper collaboration tools and on-demand video etc. can free up an individual to spend time with his kids or at the cottage, without missing out on the key discussions of an important meeting.
In essence, it boils down to understanding that tech can drive better levels of productivity, but it needs to be balanced with living a full life as well. Organizations should encourage an environment where technology is present, but isn’t overwhelming. By using technology to create and promote a work-life balance, organizations are more likely to win the hearts, and ultimately the advocacy, of their employees.
Does your company have any guidelines in place when it comes to technology and communication in the workplace? Do you expect your employees to be on call 24/7? How can we help to strike that work-life balance and still maintain high levels of productivity? I would love to hear your thoughts and start a discussion with you on these topics.
This post was written as part of the Dell Insight Partners program, which provides news and analysis about the evolving world of tech. Dell sponsored this article, but the opinions are my own and don’t necessarily represent Dell’s positions or strategies.