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The Downside to Workshifting

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The woman standing next to me on the platform finished checking her email, and I smiled knowingly. It was my afternoon off, all my clients knew it, but I still felt compelled to acknowledge a couple of messages myself.

She was headed to the dentist, running late because she had tried to get that “one more thing” done before she took off. And she was still trying.

Does workshifting tether us to the job more?

Don’t get me wrong – I love the freedom that technology brings. And Wi-Fi is awesomeness. But it used to be that when you left the office, you were gone. People didn’t expect to hear from you until the next day. Now people are taking calls and emailing documents from the beach (which is fine when you’re working at the beach). But the downside of this results-only workplace stuff is that we’re swapping our downtime for “work where you want, when you want, but be reachable.”

Maybe it’s not workshifting, but perhaps we ought to be a little bit more careful about what we wish for. Or maybe it’s just about reestablishing boundaries for ourselves.

What say you?

Photo credit: Pulpolux !!!

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Daria Steigman is the founder of Steigman Communications. She is a business and marketing strategist, and a writer, and works with companies, associations, and international organizations to put in place smart communications strategies to support your goals and objectives. Read more at www.steigmancommunications.com.
  • Atlanta

    I’m a virtual employee and I have to have a “turn off” point — otherwise, I’m sitting here at 8p….9p…10p still working.  Unless is business critical – my work day ends at 5p, including emails and phone calls —- end of story.  So much so, that I had a business line installed in my house and don’t even use my cell for work at all.  (granted I’m a different case:) Even though working from home is a huge “plus” on the scale of work-life balance – it’s very easy to work more hours than if you were going into an office.  That means less time for family and self — which washes out a huge chunk of the benefit that virtual working provided in the first place.   Although you may get the “overachiever” award at work…to me..to others perhaps – in the bigger picture (life, love, insert whatever gives us joy outside of work)  – what gain you in the end if it passes you by because we just *had* to answer that last email? 

    • http://www.steigmancommunications.com Daria Steigman

      Good on you! It sounds like you’ve done a great job setting work/life boundaries. 

      I refuse to be always on for clients: They do not get my mobile number as a routine matter — only if I need someone to be able to reach me when I’m out, and then I often will forward my business line instead. So in that sense I self-select the ones I work with. But I do have a tendency to check e-mail when I’m taking an afternoon off because it’s quick to do and means I won’t have a daunting number of unread messages in my inbox the next morning. 

      Maybe that’s why I do long runs (and love my workout times in general) … because they’re “me” time: no e-mail, no Google Reader, no Twitter. What a concept, eh?

  • VA Beach

    Personally, I feel that it tethers me to the job more in that I could leave this position and find another… but the odds of finding a job that will allow me to work from home, at least for the first year or so, are so low as to be nonexistent. So I’m very much tethered to this job and this employer.

  • http://www.odysen.com/ Matt

    lol, reminds me the of the quote “there are two tragedies in life, one is that you don’t get what you want, the other is that you do”.

    Always hard to do, as there’s always exceptions that seem valid at the time but end up sucking up the little free time you were planning for yourself.   I try to plan activities that simply have a higher priority, higher value than this or that interruption.  Otherwise you feel you’re never in control, more like a pinball, prefer the wizard if possible, :).

  • http://twitter.com/DocSyncNet DocSyncNet

    Rather than work shifting, we are entering a phase of always working. However since work and pleasure are so intertwined for entrepreneurs like me that it seems like I am always working or always having fun depending on the day you ask. When there are small successes it seems like all pleasure and when there are setbacks it looks like all work. Wonder what others feel who are in the same boat?