Ducks in a Row: A Serious Downside to Always On

Ducks in a Row: A Serious Downside to Always On

Post from: MAPpingCompanySuccess

“Employers are recognizing that it is helpful for employees to have boundaries. … People can learn to shut things off. It’s not easy, and it requires dedicated effort.” –Stewart Friedman, Wharton practice professor of management

There was a time when people bragged about always being available; how no matter where they were or what they were doing they were reachable.

Some still do, but many more are (or have) quietly burned out and are just going through the motions.

The spark is gone and that has put a major damper on innovation, creativity, productivity and caring, or engagement if you prefer.

While many companies still encourage that mindset others are moving to change it.

Companies from Atos, the French information technology services giant, to Deutsche Telekom to Google have recently adopted measures that force workers toward a better work-life balance, with scheduled breaks from the Internet and constant connectivity.

In a bid to combat employee burnout, staff at Volkswagen will be limited to only receiving emails on their devices from half an hour before they start work until half an hour after they leave for the day, and will be in blackout mode the rest of the time.

As opposed to warm and fuzzy work-life balance attitudes, these efforts are grounded in hard-headed, pragmatic, selfish business sense.

If people burn out, become less innovative and productive or have to deal with upheaval in their 6151927255_e89b46b444_mpersonal lives as a result of being always on it costs the company cold, hard cash.

Less innovation and lower productivity makes the company less competitive.

Replacing people is not only very expensive, but irreplaceable institutional knowledge is also lost.

Smart companies take care of their assets and these days that means both controlling connectivity and changing the culture, so that turning off is no longer a mortal sin.

Join me tomorrow for a look at what you, at any management level, can do.

Flickr image: Mr Fogey

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