Heading home for the day no longer means the work is done – and industry experts have voiced their concerns that technology isn’t liberating workers through flexibility, but trapping them in a 24-hour work cycle.
At the Ne(x)twork panel discussion held in Sydney last week by Fuji Xerox, which explored the future of the employment landscape, Scott Mason, director of products, marketing and strategy for Optus Business said that he hoped for a backlash against the over-use of technology, and commented “We are so ‘on’ all the time.”
Mason said while his opinion was strictly personal, and not necessarily the view of Optus, he believes that in the future employees may come to question their around-the-clock work cycle, and added:: “There may be a time when we all have to have some specific downtime.”
Beth Winchester, executive general manager of HR at Fuji Xerox, identified with the ‘always on’ problem, and said “I have more requests about how to help stop people working than to start working.”
Winchester added that from a health and safety point of view, many managers were “freaking out” about the issues they couldn’t see, such as the use of technology for work purposes in employees’ home offices.
Cisco chief technology officer Kevin Bloch argued the case for efficiency as opposed to simply clocking hours and stressed the difference between “being efficient and working 24 hours a day versus being effective”.
Steve Godbee, IBM Australia CIO, said that it was a question of balance. “If someone feels they have got to be connected 24x7 then it becomes the role of the manager to be on top of the worker,” and deal with the issue before it leads to employee burnout.