Thursday, June 23, 2011

Are you Wired and Addicted to Work?

Australians are increasingly working longer hours with technology  blurring the boundaries between work and home life.

This is not unusual, whether in Australia or the United States.

For instance, Australian Paralegal Jakeb Brown may leave the office at 6:30p.m., but he still works for an hour on his commute home.
''This is actually an early finish for me today,'' the 22-year-old said. ''I do work on the commute, but I think it is an efficient use of time. There's not much else to do on the trip.''
How do you know if you are among the growing number of "techno-enabled" workaholics? If you answer "Yes" to the following questions, you probably are:
  • Does the number of colleagues on Facebook outnumber your friends?
  • Is a smartphone the last thing you consult before bed?
  • Do you bring your laptop on vacation?
Research commissioned by NorthgateArinso, an HR software company, surveyed 500 white-collar workers and found that a third worked while commuting to and from work, and two-thirds continued to work while on vacation.

David Page, Managing Director of the company's Australasian operations, said even assuming a modest 30 minutes equated to about five hours' extra work a week. Workers might be using smartphones, Skype, instant messaging and iPads to stay hooked in, but these devices could become security blankets to make workers believe they're indispensable and an important part of the group.

When workers were asked if they felt technology helped them achieve a better work-life balance, more than 70 percent agreed. Yet more than half admitted technology was intruding into personal time.

Mr. Page did not believe job insecurity was driving the workaholism. But Barbara Pocock, Director of the University of South Australia's Centre for Work + Life disagreed.
''Research shows that three-quarters of people who are putting in long work hours don't want to be doing them,'' Professor Barbara Pocock said. ''Job insecurity is part of this, although there is an addictive element to the long hours.''
Another issue that neither Mr. Page nor Professor Pocock mentioned is the 24/7 availability that technology imposes on employees. Are employers paying the employees for the time worked outside the office? I'm unsure how overtime works in Australia but in the US the Department of Labor has classified paralegals in a category that is entitled to overtime pay.

As you spend more and more of your "leisure" time connected to your work through technology, be sure that you are fairly compensated for your time and that you are taking enough time for yourself so that you don't suffer from burnout.

Also, if the work you are doing is billable, be sure you have a system in place to capture all your time.

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald

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