Wednesday, March 13, 2013
WMW: Constant Accessibility
It used to be hard work to work anywhere. You'd have to think ahead to lug paperwork home at the end of the day, or at least save stuff on a flash drive to tote it home electronically. Now, it's not only easy to work 24/7, the work follows you and it becomes expected because everyone knows you could
theoretically work 24/7.
How could you not know about the client crisis that erupted at 9 am on Saturday morning? You were at your kid's soccer game? Well, you had your phone on you, didn't you?
Hey, did you get the email I sent ten minutes ago? Why haven't you responded? I thought maybe your firewall blocked it, so I sent it to your other address too.
Perhaps worse than the external expectation of constant accessibility is the pressure and temptation you put yourself through. Say you do look at your phone during that soccer game and become aware of the brand new work-related crisis. Then you're tempted to fire back emails to address the issue when you should be connecting with your family and supporting your child.
When I was first able to check my work email from my home computer, it was mainly for extenuating circumstances (business trips, sick days, etc.) I remember when cell phones were just for emergencies too! When I first got my work email on my phone a couple years ago, I thought it was pretty cool. I could check on things before getting to work, or before going to bed. I could respond to an email at 9 p.m. and impress whoever sent it with my industriousness.
Now that I work on a contract basis, paid by hour or by project, I don't feel the same pressure to be constantly available. I took that email account off my phone, and I rarely go into my home office when Matt and the kids are home, and I don't use the kitchen computer for work. I expected it to be harder to segment my life, working from home, but in a way it is easier to draw those lines.
What about you? Are you accessible 24/7? Do you expect others to be?