This is a question that keeps me going ’round in circles: Are electronic gadgets such as laptops, netbooks, iPhones, Blackberries, and Skype promoting or undercutting a healthy sense of work-life balance?
Electronic gadgets can be a godsend for those who jobs require time on the road, whether it’s a business person hosting a conference call or a contractor working with customers across a state. They can render distance largely immaterial in terms of communications.
For those with family responsibilities or health & mobility impairments, all this gee whiz technology makes telecommuting a genuine option. With a relatively modest investment in space and equipment, a wired home office can be a reality.
But there are real disadvantages too. Mickey Meece, writing for the New York Times, captures the downsides of technology that allows us to work anywhere and anytime (link here):
GIVEN the widespread adoption of smartphones, text messaging, video calling and social media, today’s professionals mean it when they brag about staying connected to work 24/7.
…But all of this amped-up productivity comes with a growing sense of unease. Too often, people find themselves with little time to concentrate and reflect on their work. Or to be truly present with their friends and family.
With the right toys, work can go wherever we go, and that’s not always a healthy thing.
I call it a toss-up, with the most important consideration being, as many have noted, whether we’re using the technology to facilitate more balanced lives and make work more convenient, or whether the technology is making it nearly impossible to separate ourselves from our work.