TAKING WORK ON VACATION
Nothing says vacation like white sandy beaches, an ice cold beverage and the constant, peaceful hum of … the PDA? The extensive use of mobile technologies, such as cell phones, laptops and Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) has made the workstation more portable while blurring boundaries between work and personal life. With the rise of a mobile workforce — which is expected to reach 878 million users globally by 2009, according to analyst firm IDC — it is not uncommon to hear cell phones ringing in church and PDAs buzzing at the dinner table, forcing companies and employees to re-evaluate how best to achieve work/life balance.
While mobile technologies provide employees with added flexibility and control over their schedules, they also are invading employees’ personal lives. Eighty-six percent of executives surveyed said workers will be more connected to the office while on vacation and 42 percent believe employees will be working more hours in the next 10 to 15 years as a result of technologies’ impact on the world of work, according to recent research from OfficeTeam, a worldwide administrative staffing service.
To help employees achieve a better work/life balance, employers can develop guidelines for how and when portable technologies should be used outside the office, and how accessible employees are expected to be after business hours.
Such guidelines will likely involve a companywide discussion about each department’s goals in providing employees with portable work devices. But the work can pay off. In this age of low unemployment and an increasing shortage of skilled labor, establishing a mobile usage policy that promotes work/life balance can provide a competitive advantage in attracting and retaining employees.