Sleeping with our phones: The 24/7 work week
Sleeping with your phone, answering emails at 1:00 am, and texting your boss when you’re on vacation doesn’t make you more productive–in fact, according to Harvard Business School professor, Leslie Perlow it means the opposite. Dr. Perlow’s book Sleeping With Your Smartphone, reveals that employees are actually more productive when they’re permitted to turn off their phones and get away from work.
Her book shows that by making small changes to demanding work environments it is possible for employees to walk away from their workday and turn off their phones. When these changes occur, Perlow’s work demonstrates there is increased employee productivity–surprise, surprise. However, for many who’s goal it is to get ahead, being available regardless of productivity is still a path well travelled.
Before the dawn of the smart phone, people still brought home their work. Working after hours is not a new concept. It has always been assumed that you’ll probably work some evenings–from home or the office. The difference is that now your boss can get a hold of you at any time (day or night).
Along with the smart phone has come the 24/7 work schedule. It’s become much more difficult to create a distinction between work life and personal life. And, while personal life sometimes flows into work life, work life certainly and consistently now flows into personal life. It’s interesting how one small device has infringed on our lives outside the traditional workday. Many employees are now available around the clock. According to a Pew study, “65% of adults sleep with their phone on, or right next to their bed.”
Why do we do this? If we’re not getting as much done (probably less), why is it so important that we make ourselves available all the time?
CBC’s radio program Ontario Today, recently interviewed Western University Business professor Chris Higgins. According to Dr. Higgins we make ourselves available because “people expect it.” He suggests that if you are the type of person who has a strong desire to advance your career, you’ll adhere to this new norm. If you don’t, your colleague will. As a result, you may get overlooked for promotions. Essentially, if you don’t keep yourself available consider your career stagnant.
It is certainly worth noting that the more available you are, the more top of mind you are come promotion time. However, employers should equally note that if they expect their employees to always be connected, the result might be a less productive team.
What do you think–is the expectation to stay connected, even on vacation, simply ridiculous? Or, are you happy to stay in touch?