Friday, June 02, 2006

Always On?

Private time is something we all value, and with good reason. With the ability to be connected at all times available to us, the “alone” time we crave is becoming harder and harder to experience.

Cell phones, love ‘em or not, are here to stay, and have proven to be an invaluable thing to have, particularly in an emergency. They’ve since devolved into just another method of chatting aimlessly about nothing in particular, but at a much higher cost. Not to mention the fact that people, still, think that they just aren’t as good as a regular phone, thus need to speak LOUDLY whenever using one. In a public place, the desire for one to strangle these idiots grows…

Blackberries, while addictive, serve a purpose. Being able to answer an email or two while away can free up time upon returning to work. It also helps to be able to respond to another person without them having to wait until the next morning when you return to the office. Admittedly, they can become an obsession. There is nothing more geeky, however, then a room full of corporate types all tapping away on their handheld at the same time.

There is something to be said for being unreachable, though. I find the trend toward eliminating free time a disturbing one. Companies seem to provide less in the way of benefits and perks, while expecting more out of their employees. Fearing the dreaded outsourcing, employees are forced to work longer hours, and when not in the office, be responsive, even when busy, for fear of job security.

This is wrong. It forces the corporate type to envy the nine to fiver. When they punch out, work stops, and they go home. Beautiful. I tend to take it personally when I get contacted during evenings and weekends. Though that might be an immature response, it offends me that the perception exists that I can be rung up at any time when an issue arises. I have a life, and would like to enjoy it. If you need me to be available during off hours, talk to me and try to schedule it. I am under no written nor spoken obligation to make myself available, even if I am home watching crappy television shows or playing video games or, most importantly, just being with my family. My time is my own, and though my company pays me, they don’t own my ass 24/7.

Look, the Type-A corporate go-getter who is always on has a place in this world. I say let them have at it. Better them than me. Does this mean I have a bad attitude? Not at all. When I am at work, you’ve got me. I will work my tail off to make sure my job is done well, and that I’m responsive and proactive. I take pride in my work, but just cling to the notion that once I’m out the door, I’m gone. Maybe I should be working in the deli cutting meat - I bet they never get 3:00 AM phone calls!

Am I off base here? Let me know.
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