Companies Continue to Push the Envelope of Work Life Balance
September 16, 2008 9:30 AM
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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.
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.
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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9/17/2008 10:31:35 AM
Amen, brother. With any new job I try to be reasonable and be available. However, some companies simply refuse to be reasonable. I've had a secretary call me one Saturday while I was out Kayaking with my family, and demand I come into work to help her as she didn't know how to burn a CD and her boss needed one made. That is not an acceptable reason to call me after hours. After that incident I got a new cell phone number and refused to give it out, despite their threats. Of course, I've also had good bosses to whom I gave my cell number to because I knew they wouldn't abuse it.
That's always been my guide. You can call me at home/vacation if it's a REAL emergency, but do not call me for political emergencies or non-emergencies. Abuse the privilege, and you lose the privilege.
"People Don't Respect Confidentiality in This Industry" -- Sony Computer Entertainment of America President and CEO Jack Tretton
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