This post is sponsored by Samsung Business. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
As mobility continues to blur the lines between home and work life, productivity after office hours has become a staple of the modern-day worker. The BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) movement and the integration of personal technology in the workplace enables people to work from anywhere, anytime. This constant connection already makes finding a work-life balance tougher, but now I’m adding another layer to the debate: work-life integration.
Ask Yourself: Have You Lost Your “In-Between” Moments?
Not too long ago, work only happened at work. After 5:00 p.m., people were free to do what they wanted with their time. Mobility changed that—work is now available whenever you want to do it. While this flexibility carries lots of advantages, you may find yourself blending work tasks with personal ones. For example: You see a Facebook notification—another game request, perhaps—and you think, I might as well check my work email while I’m online.
Yes, the next level of workplace mobility has arrived: work-life integration. It’s nearly impossible to separate work life and home life in the age of mobility—the two are now closely intertwined. When an employer can send an email at 10:00 p.m. and expect you to answer, work is always on your mind. If you check business voicemails during your morning commute or plug into a conference call from your hotel room, work travels with you. There’s no longer a hard line between “personal” and “professional.” Wherever you are, work is present.
What does this mean to businesses and for society? Now that mobility connects our work and life moments, how do we achieve work-life balance? Businesses have done their best to leverage personal mobility to optimize workload and transform what was once a work distraction into a window for productivity. But what’s better for business isn’t always good for the people who make up that business. Increased productivity comes at a price.
Judge the Impact Work-Life Integration Has on You
For many, mobility offers empowerment, flexibility, and seamless communication with coworkers, but a lack of boundaries between work and home can quickly become problematic. Working more often, and sacrificing personal time to do it, can mean more mistakes made. And technology is not always reliable or consistent wherever you go—another thief of personal time. For example: If your Wi-Fi at home isn’t as efficient as your office’s network is, you’ll be spending more hours on whatever tasks you’re choosing to complete there.
Since BYOD and work-life integration are still relatively new, workers are still realizing the full scope of the situation. In fact, some cases of work-life blending have actually led to decreased employee productivity. Working too much, losing sleep, and being under constant stress to impress employers leads to burned out personnel. People need time away from work to recuperate, regroup, and rejuvenate.
With work-life integration, mobile use has hit an all-time high—and employees are feeling the strain. There’s an inevitable productivity plateau that everyone hits after a certain number of working hours, where we just need a break from computer screens, constant communication, and the weight of others’ expectations. Traditionally, you could find this break at home. Now, work follows you there.
On an average day, we check our phones about 85 times (I don’t know about you, but my number is probably even higher.). BYOD policies and work-from-home expectations have only served to increase this number, further limiting the time we have to ourselves or with our families. When useful public and private applications for work are downloaded onto our personal devices, they run our lives both in and out of the office: Every time our phone buzzes or rings, we feel pressured to check it in case it’s an important message on one of our work applications. We can no longer “turn off” and focus on being home and “off the clock.”
Figure Out Where to Go from Here
Has your job captured your free moments in between work and home? Perhaps it’s time for a change. Confronting your employer or tossing your smartphone are probably not the best moves—but you can and should make small steps toward reestablishing boundaries between your personal life and your career.
Establish a work curfew, where all devices are shut down or put on sleep mode after a certain hour, or a “no phones at the dinner table” rule (we have voicemail for a reason, right?). Take a walk with a co-worker during your lunch break and only bring your device to track your steps and time. Commit to spending only half of your mass transportation commute on business tasks. Do a “digital detox” on a recurring basis, taking a hiatus from social media, work emails at home, or checking business voicemails remotely—as often as you feel is necessary. Stay an hour later at the office if it means you can leave your phone in the car at your child’s music recital or ball game.
Mobility is a blessing and a curse. By evaluating the hold mobility has on you and carving out vital personal time, you’ll be a more balanced individual—and a more productive employee.
Daniel Newman is the Principal Analyst of Futurum Research and the CEO of Broadsuite Media Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise. From Big Data to IoT to Cloud Computing, Newman makes the connections between business, people and tech that are required for companies to benefit most from their technology projects, which leads to his ideas regularly being cited in CIO.Com, CIO Review and hundreds of other sites across the world. A 5x Best Selling Author including his most recent “Building Dragons: Digital Transformation in the Experience Economy,” Daniel is also a Forbes, Entrepreneur and Huffington Post Contributor. MBA and Graduate Adjunct Professor, Daniel Newman is a Chicago Native and his speaking takes him around the world each year as he shares his vision of the role technology will play in our future.