One of the greatest advantages mobile technology has given the modern workforce can also be considered one of the greatest disadvantages if you let it. Workers are no longer tethered to a singular office space, which is great. It allows for greater flexibility and productivity. You can easily stay connected to your colleagues when you’re on the road, in a coffee shop, anywhere for that matter. But while mobile access to email and other work functions have increased exponentially, we run the risk of work creeping into our personal time. Filing emails before bed, taking a quick call on your way home; the list goes on. With such ease of connectivity, the line between working hours and personal time has been blurred.
To achieve the right work-life balance, the impetus lies with our digitally-enabled workforce, who must make a cognizant effort to establish boundaries and keep work where it belongs. If this is a challenge you struggle with, here are a few key tips:
One of the more frequent causes of overworking is an abundance of meetings. When you’re stuck in a conference room for half the day, you might not be able to get to deliverables until well past 5 p.m. Look at your calendar and ask: does this really require 30 minutes or can we reach the same objective in 15 over a video chat? Staying in touch more regularly with a unified communications platform can give you much of your day back, and even spur further collaboration as you share thoughts and perspectives in real-time.
Location, Location, Location
A core tenant of maximizing remote work productivity is carving out a separate physical space used exclusively for getting work done. This can also apply to those working in the office, since it’s just as easy to be pulled off track by water-cooler chats with colleagues and other distractions. When you have multiple projects on your plate, physically remove yourself so you can get down to business – whether it be in a conference room or other non-desk location. Mobile doesn’t just mean beyond your office, take advantage of it even at the micro level.
Your coworkers aren’t psychic. Or at least, we’re pretty sure they’re not. Most of them would have no way of knowing if you’re on a highly sensitive deadline before walking into an hour-long meeting. Between chat applications and a quick phone call, keeping your teams in the loop can be an effective for understanding priorities and delegating, if necessary. On the other end of the spectrum, it will give you additional insight into other projects so you can prioritize your workload accordingly.
Set Appropriate Expectations
Everyone works differently, and that isn’t a bad thing. For a senior-level manager who often gets tied up throughout the day, it may make sense to fire off a few emails checking in on the status of projects after hours. That doesn’t mean you need to respond immediately, however. In fact, you shouldn’t. Once you establish yourself as someone who is responsive at all hours of the night (barring extenuating circumstances), it becomes more difficult to walk back that expectation. It can be effective to keep an eye on incoming email to strategize how you’ll tackle the next day, but just think twice about hitting reply in the moment. If you don’t value your personal time, your teams won't have reason to either.
The goal of integrating and adopting new technologies in the workplace is to make life simpler, more flexible, and more productive. Connectivity is a good thing – it enables employees to move beyond the traditional office space and build systems that work for them. While checking emails at home might be tempting, the same mobile tools that risk disturbing work-life balance can, in fact, be used to support it.
You can find more about how technology is helping employees get more done at work here, in this blog post: Fueling Creativity with More Ways to Collaborate