Five years ago, businesses were starting to talk about e-strategy, and not just about whether they should allow staff to access Facebook. Now an e-strategy is becoming an essential.
While businesses are grappling with productivity levels, a difficult economy and the expectations of employees, the question remains whether we are achieving balance between people, processes and technology.
The rise of the mobile office and the mobile professional is part of this. Visit any local coffee shop that offers free wifi, and there will be people working on laptops and mobile devices, holding meetings and conducting business. I do wonder whether it makes sense for the coffee shops, as they sit at choice tables, order lots of coffee, and very little else..
As many South African entities, both companies and individuals, are active in the global economy, the traditional business discipline of ‘supply and demand’ compels companies to virtually remain open for business, 24/7. Not the coffee shops, though, so the coffee shop professionals must have an evening alternative.
There really is no easy escape from the ‘always-on’ scenario and the impact is shared by the employer and employee. People need down time, and without it an increase in sick leave, absenteeism, a drop in productivity, impact on general focus and core operations, as well as higher staff turnover rates can be the result.
All these factors have an influence on levels of achievement and efficiency.
Laptops, tablets and smart phones have promoted a situation in which people are, to a greater or lesser extent, constantly connected to the job, even when at leisure, but also constantly connected to family and the outside world, when working.
No surprise that work / life balance is constantly on the table for discussion.
It is also true that many people are scared to have the conversation, as they are worried their level of commitment to their jobs will be questioned, which could impact on career path. But it does need to be discussed. I am starting to feel that busyness is the new black. We compete as to how busy we are, almost as if our level of importance is tied to not having enough time to just chill.
There is no question that home encroaches on work, and work encroaches on home. It does come down to discipline, and sometimes just to old fashioned good manners. Not Now works. Tell work or family that you can listen for a moment because you are in a meeting or with a friend, and commit to a call back time. If that’s not possible, excuse yourself, manage the situation and then return.
Mobile professionals need to be disciplined around time management. There should be a policy in place to serve as a guide in terms of availability and connectivity. The new technology coming in is allowing more and more flexibility. At +Accsys, our new PeopleWare Mobi allows both management and staff to handle leave applications and approvals, time management and payslip viewing from your smart phone. It comes down to using the power of mobile to integrate your work and personal life effectively, and yes, sometimes in a coffee shop.