Be honest. How often do you check work email right before you go to sleep and then again soon after you wake up?
Does the paragraph above describe someone you know? Could that someone be you? According to a recent Inc.com story, it’s more common than you might think. In fact, 72 percent of managers and professionals surveyed who work more than 50 hours per week check their smartphones every morning within an hour of waking up, while 62 percent check their devices before going to bed.
Such activity is not healthy for employees or employers, says Harvard Business School Professor Leslie Perlow. A few years ago, she conducted an experiment at Boston Consulting Group to help rid a small group of employees of the “always on” mentality. Each person took one night off from work by not responding to emails or answering calls from clients after leaving the office, instead letting other team members take care of any issues that came up. After five weeks, the employees were happier and the quality of the team’s work went up, while the number of hours they put in at the office went down.
Steve Tobak, on the other hand, believes that a common sense approach to work-life balance is more realistic, and that one size does not fit all. In other words, we must all make the decisions that work best for us.
I admit that I am a slave to my smartphone, but also believe it helps me do my job better. I’d rather know at 5:30 a.m. that there is a problem awaiting my attention, so that when I arrive in the office I’m armed with information and have a leg up that will hopefully help make my day less stressful. Just the same, knowing clients are happy before I got to bed helps me sleep better.
For me, and for the time being, that means sleeping with the enemy … my iPhone.
— Laurie Berman, firstname.lastname@example.org