This blog is actually being written as I am genuinely unsure of where I stand on this issue. I want to gauge your opinion and also create a discussion so please, help me out!
To set the scene, I am currently writing this as I enjoy watching an episode of Masterchef on my lounge. I haven’t been at work for 5 days, as I decided to take an extra-long weekend by getting annual leave on Friday, Monday and Tuesday – it has been a fantastic break. Actually, it is the first break I’ve had since Christmas apart from the plethora of public holidays Queensland had earlier in the year.
To give you all a small insight into the inner workings of my brain – I tend to over think. I also often think ahead about what is upcoming and what challenges I need to overcome in the near future (admittedly, probably not far enough ahead for what my boss would like, though!). It tends to mean that for me, I love the anticipation and the build up to an event. What this meant was that on Thursday before I finished work I was finding it quite challenging to concentrate on what I needed to do.
When on leave, I checked a few emails, made a couple of phone calls, sent a text or two and organised an interview for a candidate for next week. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t working all day, I still managed to fit in a lot of personal events. But I found it almost “relaxing” to answer a few emails whilst on leave. I found myself worrying about what was happening at work and ruminating about whether I had tied off all the loose ends properly before I left. I also worried that I had left too much of a burden on my co-workers who I know work hard enough as it is.
My fiancée (I can only use that word for another 3 months, so I’m going to make the most of it!) told me to turn my phone off at one point, more as a reassurance to me that it was ok rather than being angry that I was on my phone. I did start to wonder though whether it is more beneficial to turn your phone off completely or should you just put it on silent on the bench and check it occasionally?
We hear a lot about phone addictions and our inability to switch off. We live in a world where every second of our lives is documented on social media and we spend an incredible amount of time checking out what other people are doing and comparing our own lives to the social media “highlight reel” of others. There are cases of people feeling phantom vibrations in their pockets thinking that their phone has gone off. Often the first thing that people do before they go to bed, and when they wake up, is to roll over and check their phones. Now, there is also talk of Wi-Fi being introduced on all planes for the convenience of all business passengers…. The one place that employees could get away from the incessant “ding” of an email or text will now be taken away from everyone.
I know that when I talk to friends, family, candidates and/or clients and I hear that they are going on leave I tell them all that they should relax, switch off and “forget about work”. But putting myself in their shoes I would HATE that. If I couldn’t access my phone, keep some tabs on my emails, I would likely stress out and worry about what was happening back at the office. My justification to myself, for doing these check-ins, was that I would enjoy a more relaxing break if I could keep a light and loose touch on what was happening at the office.
As I said, I definitely wasn’t on the phone 24/7. But I was wondering if this is a common feeling. Is it just my DNA, that I am programmed to want to be “in the know”? Is it my profession? I am not implying that Recruitment/HR Consultants are more stressed out than anyone else but our job does revolve around coordinating other people’s schedules, careers, and day-to-day jobs so we do tend to feel a little selfish completely switching off. Or is all of this just human nature and a reflection of societal norms?
I have no doubt that my colleagues would have done an exceptional job looking after my roles in my absence, so I am not worried about my candidates or clients being let down by any lack of service. But I am interested in others experiences on how increasing technology and accessibility to work, may be hindering or assisting work life balance?
Isaac Dufficy – Executive Consultant