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Technology is helping companies further blur the lines between work and life

These days, the proliferation of various technological advances are worsening a problem in the corporate world -- lengthening work hours. IT teams are no stranger to being on call 24/7/365.  Since the platforms they support are expected to be online all the time, they must be prepared to respond in the event of a crisis. But more and more this is being passed on to the other departments in most corporations. Employees all across the company are being expected to be on call, available, or even work regularly after normal scheduled business hours usually without any compensation whatsoever.

Recently laptops are replacing desktops as the standard computer in most organizations. Laptops provide employees with the ability to work from home as well as in the office. This is generally a great thing if you want to telecommute but it comes with a catch. After 5pm when you go home, your boss might still email you or assign you a task that needs to be completed knowing that you can do it from home just as well as you could at work.

The proliferation of Blackberries and other devices are also helping the problem spiral out of control. The days of being able to take a vacation and get away from work, are coming to an end for many. Even while on vacation you are expected to check your email and answer that Blackberry should it ring. Failure to do so could result in penalties when you return to the office.

In the last few years, though a new device has been marketed which provides the ability to get internet anywhere. These air cards as they call them are add-on cards that connect to existing laptops or can be integrated directly into newer model laptops. This always-on internet is providing employees with the ability to connect into the office and work while on the road.

For those that travel often, this is certainly a nice thing, it causes problems when managers start requiring people with air card access to be on and working, outside regular business hours. Air cards are being issued to many in management, and anyone else companies want to be able to work at a moments notice from any location. The caveat is that the employee must keep both their laptop and air card on them at all times.

To top it off, many businesses are promoting their commitment to work life balance but the 40 hour work week has turned into a 60 hour work week and thats at a minimum. With companies constantly pushing to do more work with fewer employees, many employees are having to work after normal work hours to meet deadlines. Many do not receive Overtime Pay since they are not hourly employees. Many are still eligible as they are listed as "non-exempt" meaning under the current set of laws they should be compensated for overtime regardless. This is further complicated by the debate between what is and isn't classified as work.

This problem is only expected to get worse as companies look for new ways to squeeze more work out of employees in an increasingly competitive market.


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RE: The Biggest problem...
By Gzus666 on 9/16/2008 2:52:37 PM , Rating: 3
Not to split hairs here or anything, but doesn't that come down to Canada and the US not working to use the same standards, rather than the laws themselves? I hardly think forcing them to tell you what is in their product, and the nutrition information is a bad thing, mainly cause people have allergies, or strict intakes they have to follow, etc.


RE: The Biggest problem...
By arazok on 9/16/2008 3:22:29 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Not to split hairs here or anything, but doesn't that come down to Canada and the US not working to use the same standards, rather than the laws themselves?


Yes, the jelly bean company was pushing for harmonization of those rules. My view is that if nobody had created any regulations in the first place, there would never have been a problem.

quote:
I hardly think forcing them to tell you what is in their product, and the nutrition information is a bad thing, mainly cause people have allergies, or strict intakes they have to follow, etc.


Again, regulations are always created with the best of intentions. In some cases, they are a necessary evil to serve the public good. In most cases, they do the opposite. How did people with food allergies cope before governments regulated packaging?


RE: The Biggest problem...
By Gzus666 on 9/16/2008 3:28:44 PM , Rating: 2
I assume that they guess the best they can, and if they are wrong, they die, or have a horrible reaction. I will surely concede many of these things are ridiculous, but I think this would just be a poor example. I have a feeling if you had a food allergy, you would be praising it, rather than discounting it. And I'm pretty sure if they weren't required to put it on there, they wouldn't, which could be bad for many people. I'm not a huge fan of government intervention in most every situation, but that is just one that won't self regulate very well.


RE: The Biggest problem...
By barclay on 9/16/2008 8:49:58 PM , Rating: 2
> And I'm pretty sure if they weren't required to put it on there, they wouldn't, which could be bad for many people.

I disagree. If consumers desire nutritional information, the market will provide. I can almost guarantee that food manufacturers targeting health conscious consumers would continue to provide this information. To the others... if they want people with known allergies to buy their product they will continue as well.
Even if some manufacturers do not do this, retailers and independent certification companies will likely step up to fill the void. Who knows, these 3rd party companies might even be better at informing the consumer than the current way.

The point is, the regulations are unnecessary -- the market is more than capable of encouraging this behavior where it is desirable. And as others have already indicated, the regulations add rigidity that raise costs and discourage innovation.


RE: The Biggest problem...
By Ringold on 9/16/2008 3:51:38 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
How did people with food allergies cope before governments regulated packaging?


They died?

Anyway, as far as labor laws go, we need only to look at France. They have the glorious 35 hour workweek, and what's it done for them? Unemployment didn't fall below 8% for 27 years, only recently dipping below it. Spent much of those nearly 3 decades above 10%. Given the falling economic indicators throughout the Eurozone, unemployment has bottomed and it's probably going to be back above 10% before long.

Democrats already think the economy is a wreck; they don't know what a wrecked economy is until they've seen the results of their ideological counterparts across the pond.

Besides, the market is already responding. Don't know about all of you, but I've seen a lot of managers and recruiters singing this new gospel of treating employees well and as partners rather than the Donald Trump "You're fired" approach.


RE: The Biggest problem...
By BuddyRich on 9/16/2008 5:28:21 PM , Rating: 2
The problem with that gospel, is that in the private sector, it is usually just lipservice with no real substance (certain companies like Google excluded), cause as everyone knows, the sharehold comes first.

Why does everything have to be measured in terms of dollars and cents, productivity, etc. anyway? If anything I think France has it right, certainly not for their economy, but that is only one measure. Having vistied France numerous times and having a couple of French friends, very few would want it to change. Its just a whole other culture over there. Everything unionized, flash strikes... even business men accept it as part of business. Does it put them at a competitive disadvantage vs. others, perhaps, but there there are strong laws that protect their domestic market as well and the French are notoriously anti-globalization...

I personally am lucky enough to work a 30 hour work week (4 day week), originally a 37.5 hour work week, but at only 80% of my regular salary (as expected)... the wife does the same, and we only pay for child care for three days a week. I wouldn't trade that extra day for more money anymore, imo my time is more valuable than money... though I could switch back voluntarily or be switched back at any time as it is all at "managers discreation" and based on "operational requirements". I am just waiting until my savings grow enough that I can live off of my investments and I can stop being a "wage slave"... soon... though the volatility of the markets does make me skittish to go of salary (and benefits) completely...


RE: The Biggest problem...
By barclay on 9/16/2008 8:29:15 PM , Rating: 3
> I wouldn't trade that extra day for more money anymore, imo my time is more valuable than money...

The key point is you have the choice to live your life this way. Would you deny the same freedom of choice to those whose values are different than yours -- to those would would trade their time for additional money? Regulations a la French style remove this choice from the employee.


RE: The Biggest problem...
By Felofasofa on 9/17/2008 2:03:48 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Democrats already think the economy is a wreck; they don't know what a wrecked economy is until they've seen the results of their ideological counterparts across the pond.

And you really think your economy is not a train-wreck? Surreal is the world you live in, pity it's not connected to reality in any way shape or form. I noticed you didn't respond to my posts in the Nasa article, I guess the 500 point fall of the Dow put paid to that. The Eurozone may not be pretty, but they pale compared to the corporate failings going on in the US. Continued corporate welfare is only making it worse. How you can stomach another 75 Billion dollar bail-out (AIG) is beyond me. Having to go begging to the Koreans for cash, ouch that must hurt, hehe. US financial hegemony has well and truly been blown apart, enjoy the aftermath. You haven't got a toe-nail to stand on, in lecturing others about how they should run their economies. And as if things aren't bad enough, the potential of Palin/McCain getting up is truly horrifying. Where do you get these people?


RE: The Biggest problem...
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 9/17/2008 7:37:47 AM , Rating: 1
I would point out that the problems currently in the U.S. are going to happen in most of the overseas markets in a few more years. Enjoy it when your economy drops like a rock.


RE: The Biggest problem...
By Felofasofa on 9/17/2008 7:06:44 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Enjoy it when your economy drops like a rock.

You'd like to think that, but although we are not immune to the credit contagion in the US, we actually have a housing shortage in Australia, keeping asset values up. Our mortgage market is far more regulated than yours, so we don't have any where near the level of bad loans you have. We also don't have the level of personal debt Americans have. None of our Banks are likely to fail as all are more than adequately capitalised, inflation is low and interest rates are heading down, not up. We are also underwritten by our massive resources, which China still has a massive appetite for. While wealth is not increasing due to asset inflation, we are well positioned to ride out the storm as we did with the Asian financial crisis. Sorry we're not going to tank like you guys.


RE: The Biggest problem...
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 9/18/2008 10:04:51 AM , Rating: 2
The vast majority of the U.S. financials are adequately capitalized as well. The U.S. economy despite the wallstreet woes, is still showing positive growth rate, so no recession. Overall its simply the stretch coming back to its regular tension levels rather than being overstretched like it was in years previous.


RE: The Biggest problem...
By Felofasofa on 9/18/2008 11:57:09 AM , Rating: 2
By stretch I assume you mean asset values, which were way over valued and caused these problems. This is good, painful for the people who made the biggest gains, but we all feel very sorry for them. Fee leechers, they should be made to give them back. Another thing going for Aussie, is that our economy is so much smaller, worth around 800 billion, possibly around the size of California's or smaller, making management an easier task.


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