7 ways in which technology is ruining your work-life balance
“I absolutely despise how Indian companies and founders, with no concept of life-work balance, shame employees for taking leaves and having a life outside of work. Calls on weekends, guilting a person during and post leave, infinite power games. Shameful,” read a viral tweet from August 2018.
Started by a digital consultant from India named Sukhada, this thread garnered many anecdotal replies. Some even shared what they termed as their ‘bad boss’ experiences. The way this tweet resonated with many other employees is proof of the eroding sense of work-life balance in today’s digitally connected workspace.
Here are a few ways in which technology is ruining your work-life balance:
#1. A new normal
It is an irony that the same technology which has made work more easily accessible and manageable has also hindered with your off-work hours. In contemporary workspaces, employees are expected to be connected to work at all times. At least, employers want them to be available to reply to work-related queries after stipulated office timings.
This trend has set a dangerous precedent in many ways. It is now normal for employees to sync their phones to work mailboxes, keep checking updates/follow-ups on messaging tools like Slack, Hangouts. And, reply to job queries at odd hours.
#2. Vicious cycle
This template of employer expectations is stressing out employees as there is unnecessary pressure mounting on them to stay ahead of others in terms of ‘clinging-on-to-work’.
Surprisingly, it is not uncommon for employees to experience fear of retribution or worse public-shaming if they do not comply or respond to superfluous work demands.
#3. Ruined holidays
Research conducted by Randstad in their Employee Engagement Study revealed how around 42 percent of polled employees in the U.S ‘feel obligated to check in with work while on vacation’. Furthermore, 26 percent of employees felt guilty for using all of their vacation time.
To address such issues, companies like Mercedes Benz and Huffington Post have already launched ‘absence assistance’ tools to either delete/automatically archive emails arriving in the inbox of a vacationing employee. However, it remains to be seen how other companies act in order to ensure that their employees have a fulfilling holiday without having to check with work.
#4. Unwarranted obligations
The Twitter thread mentioned earlier speaks of unwarranted obligations that new-age employers place on employees. Be it scheduling work calls on weekends or requests to conduct interviews after business hours, technology has provided the perfect pretext to heed to excessive workloads.
In a sense, this leads to employees feeling tied down to their digitized work desk long after their designated job hours. This leads to employees not having enough ‘downtime’ to recuperate from work-related tensions.
#5. Guilt tripping
It is not just the Indian bosses (as per the tweet), employers across the world are more likely disturb employees during their leaves and off-days, thanks to technology.
In trying to appreciate workers who instantly responds, supervisors may be doing more harm than good. Employees are likely to perceive such praise as being unsympathetic towards their work-life balance. This then leads to employees often guilt-tripping themselves and falling into the trap of constantly keeping up with work.
#6. Unhealthy competition in the workplace
Millennials today are struggling to enable a better switch from work-related apprehensions to home and family. However, feeling obligated to stay connected to work all the time has led to employees creating unhealthy competition in the workplace.
This then results in worthless compulsions. For example, the urge to be the first employee to reply to a work email/fix an issue during off-work hours etc.
#7. Technology blurring boundaries
Frequently buzzing mobiles phones, high-speed internet facilities have all enabled modern day to redefine work cultures. Today concepts like ‘work from home’ (WFH) are a well-accepted norm. However, these new aspects have also toppled the conventional idea of work-life balance.
For example, 57 percent of those surveyed in Workfront’s ‘Work-Life Imbalance Report’ blamed technology for ruining their modern family dinner. They reasoned this behavior on unreasonable clients who demand responses at any hour. Shockingly, 40 percent of employees felt it was acceptable to prioritize answering a work email over sharing a family meal.
Thus, staying connected to work may not always mean greater dedication to one’s job. Often it leads to employees suffering exhaustion. In worst cases, it can lead to extreme pessimism leading to job burn-out.
Hence, it is important for new-age employees to recognize the destructive role of technology is ruining your work-life balance. Consequently, they can prioritize better and know where to draw the line.