Full Connectivity, Full Productivity? Do Mobile Devices Help or Hinder Work-Life Balance?
In an ‘always on’ world where mobile devices allow online access to anything, anywhere, and work is always at our fingertips, are we letting work into places that it shouldn’t? Or is the flexibility of mobility allowing us to live life in a more productive and enjoyable way?
Mobile devices, particularly smartphones, empower employees with increased control and choice over the way they work. Our world and workplace has become global, diverse and flexible meaning that the constraints of a 9am to 5pm Central Business District (CBD) office are becoming increasingly redundant and even impractical.
Mobility, with the help of technology enabled security and greater connectivity with the National Broadband Network in Australia and theUltra-Fast Broadband initiative in New Zealand, adds a whole new dimension of productivity to the workplace.
Sydney based Talent Manager, Jessica Jordan manages nine inboxes and works across multiple market sectors and time zones. She says, “Working in recruitment means you can’t be “off”, having my iPhone and laptop means I don’t have to cram everything into the time I am at my desk. I wouldn’t be able to do this job without having mobile devices. I have more flexibility during the day and can do the things I want, without the concern that I will miss something.”
However there is concern that smartphones and mobile working simply means that more work is expected from employees, and that being constantly reachable increases stress. The old adage about the “CrackBerry’s” quickly springs to mind. Research that suggests working 60 hours per week is less productive than working 40 hours, is not new.
So are we working smarter, or just harder?
Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association and ANU research indicates that Australians are working longer hours, but overwhelmingly, 82% of respondents said productivity is “much better” or “slightly better” with new technologies in comparison to just 4% who said that they were worse off because of new technologies. The Cisco Connected World Technology Report also found that employee satisfaction and productivity both increased with flexibility and mobility measures in place.
Technology providers are also being proactive for the benefit of consumers. The recently released iPhone 5, and iOS 6 updates include “do not disturb” functions that limit notifications of calls and emails during specified times. Users can choose lists of people that they want to hear from and block everyone else to achieve the desired “switch off” for undisturbed concentration.
Innovative apps can assist in achieving a productive work life balance as well. CrunchTime lets users set work-life balance goals, track work hours, sleep time, overtime worked, mood, weight and vacation taken. The goal is to provide busy employees better knowledge of how their time is really spent, and to give them a sense of how to improve their overall quality of life.
Jessica Jordan thinks that the change in the way we work and the tools we are using to facilitate that change will become ubiquitous, “Most of my friends already mobile work, sooner or later everyone will. Everyone will have a tablet and work from wherever they like. It’s great to have the tools that enable greater flexibility and productivity. I love it.”
We’re keen to hear about how you work and how you would like to work, so come and check out theCisco Work Your Way website, keep an eye out for our series of blog posts and follow the Cisco ANZ Twitter feed (@CiscoANZ, #telework) to keep up to date with our exploration of the possibilities, obstacles and opportunities that Teleworking will present.
Do you think that mobile devices help or hinder productivity and work life balance? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.