Unwind from the Grind
As an increasing number of Americans work beyond the typical eight hour work day, the distinction between work and personal life is slowing disappearing. In addition to staying late or going in early, employees are now expected to bring their work home with them. In fact, a recent Good Technology study shows that 80% of people continue to check their email and answer phone calls after they leave work for the day (Good Technology, 7/2/12).
Improved technology through smart phones, tablets, and laptops makes it much easier to work outside the office and creates a new level of connectedness among businesses and customers; customers want a near-instantaneous response time when they have needs, and employers expect workers to stay connected, even after hours.
As a result, workers (especially those on salary) are finding themselves checking in at all hours of the day, every day of the week. According to the study, roughly 70% of people check their emails both before they head into work, and before they go to bed. It seems as if “off the clock” has a whole new meaning in this world of technology. Whether on vacation, sick at home, or on a family outing, people are not leaving work behind.
In fact, the average workers spends seven extra hours a week staying connected to their work—that’s almost an entire extra day of working per week that the employee is not getting paid for.
But why are people sacrificing their personal time to keep working unpaid hours? In today’s economy and job market, there is always someone else out there willing to work longer and harder hours. People are working the extra hours in order to keep their jobs and continue driving business, which will keep the boss happy.
The problem with working so many extra hours lies in employee productivity and motivation. It’s hard to stay motivated, as well as positive and driven about one’s job, when one never gets a break from it. That’s why it’s crucial for businesses to encourage their employees to take a break. People need down time to recharge both mentally and physically. After all, aren’t we all striving to “work to live, not live to work?”
Here are a couple of tips for unplugging from work:
• Communicate with your management: It’s important that you and your boss come up with realistic deadlines for projects you have due. If you feel that you need more time, be sure to communicate that and be prepared to give reasons why. And as always, as stuff comes up along the way, communicate that to your boss so that you can shift deadlines as needed and make room for other responsibilities.
• Set a stop time: Each day, set aside some time to unwind. Giving yourself set periods of personal time that are truly yours will make the times when you have to work long hours much more manageable.
• Keep your family first: It may seem as though work can’t wait, and you are too far behind to stop; however, nothing will make you feel more balanced and good about your work then if you make your family time truly family time.
Unwind from the Grind