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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 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.

"The whole principle [of censorship] is wrong. It's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't have steak." -- Robert Heinlein
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