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Technology and the work life balance....

We’re at a stage now where it’s the norm for many of us to be glued to our gadgets at all hours of the day and night. We’ve most definitely become more reliant on the technical world and it appears to be a multi-generational phenomenon, crossing business and pleasure and making no differentiation for personality types.

In short, it’s not just teenagers, the gadget-obsessed or those with not much else to do – we’re all on some sort of screen for a large majority of the time, at home and at work 

So, has technology overtaken us all and done away with the work life balance for good?

Holidays, waiting for hospital appointments and your turn at the dentist, a meal out with the family or during a pub quiz on a Thursday night… Wherever we are and whatever we’re doing, a high percentage of us regularly check our mobile phones.

Those in demanding jobs (most of us !) are constantly checking emails and messages to see what’s just come in. Our nature is inquisitive, we’re impatient and it’s become force of habit. Everyone does it – don’t they?

Funny that something we set rules and boundaries and chastise our kids for - the overuse of technology - has become such second nature to us. Has anybody noticed, by the way? We don’t badger our kids half as much to cut down on their screen time as we used to.

Part of this is due to the fact that kids grow up and the conversations that you would have had with them a few years ago - say to a seven-year old or a nine-year old - won’t be so relevant to those same kids at ten and twelve. However, I also believe that part of the reason we’re easing off our kids’ cases is that we know that we’re fighting a losing battle. Technology has replaced toys and has become the norm when it comes to entertainment and downtime.

Of course, there’s a blurring of the lines here when it comes to the grown-ups. Many of us are on social media sites, indulging in retail therapy, surfing the net and catching up with various forms of online entertainment during our downtime. At the same time, however, most of us are accessing our work emails and checking those too.

So, are some companies implicitly demanding this level of 24/7 service from their staff or are we all driving this trend, to some extent, in our pursuit of absolute flexibility?

There are companies for which this constant connectivity is part of the culture and the dynamic. You know if you’re a part of one of those. You’ll be getting regular emails from colleagues that have been sent after 9pm – and you’ll be opening them, responding and composing your own too !

It could be that this implicit expectation, to remain connected at all times, regardless of where we are and what we’re doing, is passively driven by both sides. After all, we have all been guilty of the urge to check our phones at some point or other when we are officially ‘off duty’ – in fact, some of us can’t rest without doing so.

The trick is to recognize when you are feeling a bit frazzled, and the pull of the phone has become too much, and learn to impose some restrictions on yourself. We all need some screen-free time. What’s important is that you decide when yours is going to be and make sure you power off.


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