That problem recently came up when ABC News tried to make it clear to new staff writers that they couldn’t count time checking their Blackberries as being work hours for overtime purposes. While the two sides settled this issue internally, it does raise plenty of questions for other hourly workers who are still expected to "check-in" from time to time outside of the office. This might not be a huge problem, as many jobs that require a Blackberry tend not to be paid hourly — but these types of issues are likely to keep showing up as workplaces struggle to deal with changing work and lifestyles.
I do not work hourly (more’s the pity), but I would say I spend at least 2 hours a day while on my own time checking mail on my Q, finishing up a document on my laptop at midnight, or working on a presentation on my Eee while riding the bus home as I did just a few hours ago. Over the weekend? Over the two days off I must put in half a day worth of work…just to make sure I am ready for my top of the week meetings. In today’s economy, it wouldn’t even occur to me to ask to be paid for that time, nor would my employers consider granting the request. In fact, such a situation would likely make my yearly review a lot less pleasant then normal. Long hours and workaholism are simply considered part of the job, and if I refuse to put the extra effort in, someone else will, while sitting in my chair.
It is understood that we can work from home now nearly as easily as we can in the office…and are expected to do so.
Of course, on the flipside, more and more of our private lives takes place at work. I spend much more time dealing with personal issues while at work then my father ever dreamed was possible in a “professional position”. I think nothing of doing a bit of blogging, some surfing, some downloading, making a call to my son, updating my personal schedule…all while I am on the company’s time. Of course, in the modern office few of us are “on the clock” as our fathers or mothers were. My VP could care less how I get the job done or where I do it, as long as it IS done.
Perhaps that is one of the benefits of the technological revolution in the Enterprise. Less focus on the means, more on the ends. Since many of us can work from literally ANYWHERE, there is less pressure to be at our desks from 9 to 5, five days a week…and that can really open up our lives once we work out the right balance. We give 110 percent to our careers, but take 110 percent too. At least for now, I am ok with the fact that though the pressure is high and the hours long, my job allows me to drop everything to watch a boy’s judo match in the middle of the afternoon…even though I may check my emails after the ippon.
So what do you think? Is work eating our personal time, or are the two simply merging? Sound off…once you are done checking your voice mails.