Blurring the boundaries

James Campanini
Managing Director, Cisco WebEx, EMEAR
Cisco WebEx
Blogger
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An interesting survey was recently launched highlighting the increasingly blurred boundaries between our work and personal lives; a third of people surveyed check work emails before 7.30am and remain online until 7.00pm. While it’s important to remember to have some time off from work, I don’t wholly agree with those that suggest this change in working hours to be detrimental to our personal lives; quite the opposite, in fact.

Such an increase in working hours is largely due to the rising number of smartphones and tablets which mean employees can more easily contact their colleagues whenever necessary. The increased connectivity allows tasks to be performed on the go, and employers are becoming more accommodating as a result, prepared to redefine the working day. According to the survey, our employers are becoming increasingly more lenient over staff turning up late for work. Why? Because, as this survey confirms, staff are more than making up for any lost time by allowing themselves to be contactable outside of office hours.

Today we are more willing to check email first thing in the morning and last thing at night because we know it might free up the extra hour during the day for us to run a personal errand or book a dentist appointment. The more we try to juggle in our personal lives, the more the working day needs to fit around it. If you have the capability to host a conference call at 10:00pm in the evening then you should do it. But by the same token you should be able to be more flexible with your working hours.

Many employees now offer their staff full access to files, email and agendas from home or on the go If your employee doesn’t offer this, then you can make sure you are able to collaborate with co-workers in your own time by adopting tools and business apps that mean you can host meetings, share files or join conference calls no matter where you are in the world.

The danger, of course, is that not everyone is following the same pattern of behaviour. Some are sticking with their nine to five routines, without any compromise or willingness to be contacted by employers or colleagues outside of these hours. Again, this is absolutely acceptable, but in my opinion these people will be slowly regarded as difficult to work with. Without accommodating flexible working hours, as the current trend is tipping towards, you are likely to find yourselves falling behind or losing out on particular tasks.

Today’s economy, particularly for smaller businesses, demands flexibility. Much in the same way as businesses were always closed on Sunday but started to open due to increased demand, the demand for accessibility to ensure we aren’t ‘put out’ requires business hours during the week to follow-suit. Increasingly heavy workloads, longer working weeks and a struggling economy all contribute to the need for a more flexible approach to working; you have the ability to make your own lives easier by managing your workload in your own time.

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