Work and Home (=More Work)

From Sarah Perez:

Have you ever read news that sort of makes you want to cry? I have to warn you, that’s what this new study from enterprise mobility company Good Technology might inspire. The company polled 1,000 U.S. workers to get a better understanding of their mobile work habits. The results are not surprising: the line between work and free time has become so blurred it’s practically non-existent.

80% of people continue working after leaving the office (a figure which actually sounds low, if you ask me). Half of them do so because they feel they have “no choice.” Connectedness means customers demand fast replies. There’s no off switch. Half of respondents check their email in bed, starting at around 7:09 AM. 68% check email before 8 AM. And you wonder why people hate email so much? God forbid we get a cup of coffee in us before dealing with the latest work emergency.

The average amount of “extra work” occurring outside normal working hours is seven extra hours per week – nearly another full day, says Good. That’s nearly 30 hours per month or 365 extra hours per year. THANKS INTERNET.

Good also found email was seeping into other parts of our daily lives, too. 57% checked email on family outings. 38% at the dinner table. 69% can’t go to sleep without checking email. 40% do so after 10 PM. A quarter of respondents said overtime caused occasional disagreements with their partner. Worse, over half said it did not– apparently, work outside of work is so par for the course, we don’t even care anymore. That’s truly frightening.


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  • Agree with the underlying sentiment here. There is little to no disassociation from work these days and it’s unhealthy. But even more interesting, is why we choose to put up with it. What’s the root driver(s) of this/these attachment(s)? I suspect, the answers to that question aren’t easy or simple to bear, but yet are still necessary to face as Christians.

  • Larry Barber

    Well Brad, we put up with it because as annoying and harmful as it is, it beats sleeping under bridges.

    Its also not just the Internet that causes the problem, I think the real villain is cell phones, which allow your employer to jerk your chain 24x7x365. Without cellphones you have some control over when you read your email, and can arrange to be out of contact, away from any communications devices. With cellphones its just about impossible to be out of contact for any length of time. I have one of those 24x7x365 jobs and I get calls when I’m on vacation, at night, on weekends, when I’m in church. It’s maddening, but in today’s economy I’m stuck with it.

  • DRT

    I do most of those things and I am technically unemployed.

    But that is the price of having a good job these days. We compete for salaries so as the level of competition increases you have the choice to increase your game or get a lower salary, or none.

  • JoeyS

    I wonder how this corresponds to time spent doing personal things while at work – checking email, facebook, twitter (though for me facebook and twitter have a work function), paying bills, etc.?

    It seems that if this line is blurred, then it is blurred both ways – we work while at home and we do personal things while at work because the line is blurry.

  • Joey, that’s a really good point. The lines are blurred, but is that healthy?

  • Larry, all very true. I guess, what I meant is do we, as Chrisitans, encourage or discourage such attachments? I’m not saying that having a 24/7 link to the office isn’t necessary in some careers, but in all? Do we set good boundaries or work to find jobs that will fit a healthy balance? I’ve worked on both sides of isle here, but I’m not claiming any expertise or answers. Just wondering.

  • Phil Miller

    That number seems really high to me. I guess it’s polling people who just have office jobs, and that makes more sense.

    I guess I’ve been blessed. I do occasionally have to spend longer times in the office, but I really never do any work from home. I have had to answer the occasional call from a co-worker, but I have a pretty clear-cut separation between my work and home life.

  • DRT

    Brad, you makes some very good points. Here is how I have framed it up for myself and those whom I coach.

    For many of us it is good to have a job we enjoy. For much of my career I had jobs that I could easily see doing as a hobby too. For people in that category there can be a significant overlap between home and work and it not be harmful.

    I also encourage those who want to be high achievers to make their jobs their hobby for at least a couple of years. That goes from people who invest in the the stock market, design logos for customers, program computers to perform well, or design weaponry that will defend our troops. Find a job that you can also enjoy as a hobby, at least for some time.

    If successful in that, then the problem more becomes how to carve out family, spiritual, alone, physical or sedentary, quiet or other times that we need to feel balanced and alive as a human. Find ways to get paid for your hobby!

    I have also found that some people love very particular things. Well, for them it is a tough row to hoe if they can’t find a job doing that. But for most of us it is more a matter of framing it up in such a way that can get enjoyment out of it. I have found that I can do almost anything and enjoy it to a great deal. Really. I can be digging post holes one day and advising corporate presidents the next and I find enjoyment in both.

    So this is not a cut and dried issue. Is it healthy? It purely depends on the way the individual thinks about it.

  • DRT

    One of the best pieces of advice I ever heard was a former manager who told me the key to a successful career. He said “Everyone needs to wash their dishes. The key is to not become a dish washer”

  • Fish

    In my experience, it’s the employer who drives 24×7 work hours. If you have two employees, you can lay one off and give that work to the other. I’ve been in meetings and known people to be tracked down in Europe on vacation to answer a question that could’ve waited, heard people fall asleep on conference calls from exhaustion because it was midnight in their time zone, etc.

  • James

    I recently resigned from a position with a small non-profit due in large part to conflicts with the executive leadership. One such conflict involved the amount of work time I put in. Though it was never explicitly brought up to me, they believed I “didn’t want to work” despite my ability to stay on top of my tasks more effectively than most others. I suspect this was a result of my insistence on doing as little work as possible once I left the office, including not checking my work email, not having my work email push to my phone, and not answering a call from co-worker until they had called 3 times. Of course, there were some days where something absolutely needed to get done, but those were the rare exception and not the rule.

    I’m sure this resulted in my being overlooked for projects and positions which they would have otherwise liked me to work – perhaps even for more money – but it was a small price to pay for the sake of being able to be present with my family and involved in my church to the extent that I desired.