I have been wanting to write this piece for some time and with the recent discussion circulating surrounding Time Magazine new cover regarding technology and man essentially becoming one I decided it was time to pick up my pen; well rather get to typing away on my computer. Last week I was leaving my office on a typical Thursday around 6PM and I could not help but notice the two lovely ladies in front of me as well as myself all had out company laptop bags on our shoulders. There was nothing particularly odd about this observation as this is a daily occurrence in offices around the globe but it prompted me to think; is our 24/7 access to technology truly improving our work process or is it limiting our true creativity and passion?
Some years back when I was working in 3 party staffing, right about when the blackberry was becoming king and all executives across the globe found themselves comfort, solace and a new best friend in this small (addictive) piece of hardware I had a meeting with a client that has since resonated with me. Many of my meeting start out the same way getting to better know the hiring manager I am sitting with and what makes them tick and then potentially even more important getting to better understand their organizational culture and how it impacts their performance and employee production and retention rates. When we began to discuss the work culture she revealed to me that their employees are required to get outside once a day (weather permitting) or if outside is not available they must get away from their workstations and do some type of none work related team activities. I first asked what some of the activities had been and she went through a rather interesting list that included kite flying, office relays and groups sitting around and talking about the movies that they had recently saw.
My initial take on all of this was that this was the company’s way to promote team bonding and comradery but when I probed deeper she told me that that wasn’t necessarily true. They had found their employees to be stressed uptight and working very long hours to complete their necessary tasks. They decided to take action by getting them up and away from their desks so that they could completely clear their minds of all work related tasks and stress and come back more refreshed and creative. After implementing this program for about a year they had found that employees overall were able to get more done in a shorter amount of time and that overall employee job satisfaction had risen quite extensively.
So what can we take away from this and what does that mean to all of us toting laptops and company smartphones home with us after hours? Well, the world isn’t going to go back in time to a place where we are not asked to take our work with us BUT we can still find a way to manage those expectations both at work and at home. If you are a leader find creative ways to give your teams breaks and get them up and active even if it is a daily walk around the building or a brief break to play a totally pointless game in the break room. If you are not leading a team try and find ways to step away from your desk and clear your mind and leave your smartphone at your desk during this time. When you are at home set some designated time aside in which you will place all of your technology devices out of site. It may seem that you will be losing productivity but you will actually be allowing new creative juices to flow and find that you and your team are more eager to return to work.
So to answer the question; is our 24/7 access to technology truly improving our work process or is it limiting our true creativity and passion? Well the answer in short is; both. If you do not manage technology burnout you may indeed be stunting the very productivity you are trying to drive. If managed correctly we can all benefit from and thrive in our technology driven society.
Andrea Clarkson | Regional Recruiter-Eastern Business Unit | Diamond Resorts International