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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the laptop is the WRONG way to go for many telecommuters
9/17/2008 10:47:07 AM
All of this of course depends on your field of work. If you're a salesperson and the extent of your computer usage is a CRM software and email, a laptop is fine. Plus if you actually travel for business it's almost a necessity.
But for those of us that actually develop code and manage systems it is not even close to practical.
As someone who telecommutes from time to time, I can confirm it is MUCH easier to have a desktop at work that I can remote into from my home machine than to have to lug a stupid laptop around. Also, depending on the type of work you do, laptops are generally much more tedious to use due to their keyboard layout and less performance to an equivalently-priced desktop (which is the primary concern for company procurement departments), and when your work machine is with you at home you have less direct and less efficient access to resources at work.
It is practically IDEAL to have a high-end desktop at work, my personal PC at home which isn't too shoddy, and the ability to remote in to the work machine when I'm telecommuting.
In addition, Outlook web access allows me to quickly check my email at work without having to run the VNC software and login to the work machine, and is something generally accessible from any online device, including my iPod touch.
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