Does the following sound familiar? You’re already at home, relaxing on your couch and enjoying your free time when suddenly your phone rings: it’s your boss with the newest input regarding the project that you are working on. A new idea or some new piece of information (at least that’s the explanation you are getting) that just couldn’t wait another second, certainly not until the next day. No big deal, as you are tempted to think, you’ve only lost five minutes. And having a cellphone is all about constant availability anyway, isn’t it? Is this the new normal in your professional life and are there really no consequences for you?
Modern technology is, again one might say, both a blessing and a curse. Everybody owns at least a PC or notebook and most households have been conquered by tablets and smartphones alike. The Internet can be accessed anytime and virtually anywhere. The sum of available social networks and apps is ever growing, just as the number of their users. As a direct result, we are constantly available. Which sounds fine – family and friends can reach out to us anytime and we can plan things together. The flipside is that the same goes for bosses and colleagues. The temptation level is high. We know that we can access our work email account anytime, so we do it. Maybe just to make sure that we didn’t forget anything, but more often than not also to finish stalled tasks. Before we know it, we get used to being available for work anytime. And not only for bosses, but also for colleagues or clients that just have one thing to clear up.
Which employees are most likely to agree to blur the lines between office hours and personal free time? Most of them are younger and therefore used to the current conditions of the job market, which include temporary employment and smaller wages. At the same time, they are also the first generation that grew up being connected. It’s no stretch to them to work on some easy tasks during evening hours or the weekend. They are eager to keep their jobs. Overambitious employees, who never want to make any mistakes, are also amongst those that are constantly available, especially if they work in small companies with few colleagues, but many tasks and great responsibility.
The consequences are unsurprising: fatigue, being overworked, arguments with life partners, who are not always understanding when their significant other spends big chunks of his or her free time working or is just plain too tired for any activity on holidays. Which leads to not recharging one’s batteries enough, by the way. That’s why we advise you to pay great attention to your work-life-balance. Don’t forget that the legal restrictions regarding the maximum amount of working hours per day are there for a reason. In order to function properly in your chosen profession, you need your free time as well. It’s less of a privilege, actually quite the contrary – it’s a must.