Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Work - Life balance in a connected world

A friend of mine posts a blog entry the other day about work-life balance and it got me thinking. These days, competition is fierce, the Fortune 500 companies are locking down their employees as if they own them. State and Federal governments are even worse! This really breeds a workforce that is pretty separated from their employer. We are pretty much locked into a 9 to 5 world when we are living in a 24-7 world. Not the best for morale, productivity, efficiency, effectiveness, and motivation.
With me being a geek's geek, I have the answer. A 24-7 job. Now stay with me here, this is where it gets complicated. We all have the tools to go mobile; laptops, iPhones, Blackberrys, Windows Mobile smartphones. Some of us even have other tools that are pretty cool; cellular "network" cards for the laptops, cool bluetooth accessories that help us out, GPS units, multi-mode phones that also connect to Wi-Fi hotspots. Now taking all this into account, you are virtually connected anywhere and anytime, right? Why would your average CEO not leverage this technology to allow their workers to work from anywhere?
Let's think this scenario all the way through. We have Average Worker X. Let's make it complicated and let's say he's an IT worker. I'm going to use the IT worker example since there aren't that many roadblocks to encounter when your function exists in marketing, sales, accounting, or a few other places. Manufacturing would be an exception to this idea. If you give the worker the tools to connect from anywhere, you might not get all the "face time" that we are all accustomed to, but in turn you have a worker that is more willing to devote time and effort into their workday because they are allowed to have the day to day distractions of chatting with friends, attending other things that are part of their personal life, and the general satisfaction of that if something comes up, they aren't "chained" to their desk. This means you're not working the traditional 9 to 5. You're working 24-7. You have a better ROI on your employees since they are more willing to stay with your company. You have less costs in searching for new talent and you have the tools to retain your top talent. Is this not a win-win for everyone?