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A 5-minute read
The summer is soon ending. I was at the Weinlaube (grape/wine arbor?) yesterday at Ludwigsburg, the small German town I live in. The whole city heads out (rain withstanding) to relax, and try out regional wine and cheese. A friend of mine enjoying her wine joked about how her work inbox had reached the magical number of 1500 emails only now that she had worked from home. I gasped. How does one accumulate 1500 unread work emails? This clearly led to others sharing their stories too. My husband shared the pro tip of drafting the meeting agenda using the notes app on the phone, while in the toilet. At this point, I told myself, work life balance is dead, and being washed down the drain for sure. Was this just a phenomenon within my circle of friends? I had to find out the mystery!
Why Work Life Balance Is Dead!
1. It gets worse with executives: A recent survey from ThinkingPhones revealed that only 4.7% of executive level employees in the U.S. feel it is not appropriate to work outside of business hours. This clearly does not bode well for those of us who are going up the career ladder. What is worse, is if your bosses are sending you emails on a trot, most likely they expect you to be finding time to answer too. Here’s the problem bosses: emails after work hours actually hurt team productivity. Yes, sorry.
2. Work emails are omnipresent – in bathrooms, on dates and on vacations: We’re presenting a new business case to a whole new set of companies that will fight mobile phone germs. Believe it or not, your mobile phone has more germs than a toilet seat. Researchers from the University of Arizona shared that each square inch of your phone contains almost 25,000 germs. And, we are not making it any better. We carry our phones and work everywhere. They generally remain hot/always-on making them a breeding ground for germs. Not only are our habits creating a health hazard, we are also allowing ourselves no recuperation time from work. Here are some more staggering statistics from the ThinkingPhone survey:
- 53% of employees have responded to emails from a bathroom
- 82% of employees admit to responding to email while on vacation
- 18% of employees dangerously respond while driving, and another 18% while on a date (oh the horror!)
3. There are distractions: We’re in a world where our attention spans are shorter than a goldfish. Our work day is filled with new notifications every minute. In a wonderful blog post, the VP of Growth at Hubspot, Brian Balfour, shares his interesting list of distractions in a day that I found myself amused by:
“Hey Brian, can you send me that partnership agreement?”
“Hello Brian, will you shoot over this month’s revenue report?”
“Umm … Brian … the server just crashed. What should we do?”
I charted it back to my own day, and realized how many similar things I struggle with. There is no utopian world where the team or the Internet is going to stop buzzing. And considering collaborations bring so many new ideas to the fore, not all distractions are bad. But, it also means, that our productivity is not the highest levels. The Ford assembly line system does not work in our new day-to-day lives powered by mobile devices. We don’t yet have the right set of tools or mechanisms to come up with one single way to segregate our personal and professional online work. That requires a lot more discipline than most people are willing to put in. It also means, oftentimes we reach 5 pm with not a single important task crossed out.
At this point, I wonder, if it even makes sense for me to mourn about work life balance. We are in a world of work life integration. How do you deal with this new normal?
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About the author:
Upasna is Unified Inbox’s Digital Storyteller. Upasna is also the Co-Founder of Content Marketing & Branding Firm, Brandanew. Her previous experiences include: Rocket Internet, Experteer and McKinsey & Co. She has been a blogger since 2003 and currently lives in Ludwigsburg, Germany.