Can technology contribute to work-life balance?

Technology has in many ways created new devices that enables us to communicate and work in a more efficient way. While there is a tendency to think that all of these new devices which surround us are blessings, there are also reasons to believe that the contrary may be true. The numerous advantages and opportunities that digital communication devices can provide us with may not be well utilized in the most efficient manner. Many of us do not consider the fact that the email culture within businesses and the way in which we use technology can cause overwhelming frustrations, that can contribute to work-life imbalance. But, perhaps the same technology can contribute to solving our problems and restore the balance.

timeDo our own expectations affect our work-life balance?

It is worth noting that technology alone is not responsible for the negative impact on work-life balance, society has also played a role. We live in a very competitive social environment where instant gratification in everything we do has become the norm. This has influenced the way we work, live and communicate. With the Internet, smartphones and other devices we are available and online 24/7 responding to messages and calls as soon as they arrive. This is exactly the reason why we feel as if we are more bound to work than ever before and often extra hours of work are required to stay on top of workloads and to be effective. The truth is, some employees are not putting in the extra hours because they necessarily want to; they do it because they feel obligated to. We can agree that today’s technology makes communication easy and convenient. However, with this ease and convenience, people can become anxious if they do not respond to enquiries immediately.

Related: Five tip to reduce email stress

Receiving emails outside of working hours has become acceptable business practices even though this action can impact and upset social time with family and friends. If you have worked and answered emails in the evenings or during the weekend, you have probably heard from friends and family that you work too much. This pressure we put on ourselves could be the reason for an unhealthy impact on our work-life balance. What each individual employee should consider is, who is responsible for a happy and well-balanced life – the influences of society, family and friends or the employee him or her self? If we are happier working extra hours to reach our deadlines than we are attending social activities with family and friends, there is no problem with our work-life balance. However, we all have different schedules and therefore it is important that we respect that. Which is why we all can benefit from being organized and considering when we send emails. What might be the best time for you to send an email, might not be the best time for the recipient, to receive the email. We all can benefit from being organized and considerate of others time when we send emails.

Related: Email stress – who to blame? 

timeConsider when emails are to be sent

Obviously, technology can not change the need and belief that we have to be hyper-responsive and always available. Even though some businesses try to address these issues by encouraging employees to become better at managing their email inboxes more effectively or turning off email after hours, these quick fixes ignore the human factor – the anxiety that makes employees feel as if they must always be available in order to protect their job, keep up with colleagues and perform in the best way possible. All things considered, technology can actually help us to prioritize and decide the best time to send emails. In order to achieve this, one solution could be the MARK5 feature called “send time”. This feature allows you to write an email, whenever you want to and set the timer to send it at an appropriate time. The result is that you do not interrupt people at times when they are supposed to be free from work. Using technology to stay organized gives some relief from the pressure brought on by the need to always be available and support a better-balanced work and private life. Companies could therefore benefit from having standard policies in place that state appropriate hours to send emails in order to contribute to work-life balance.

Related: How to successfully enable your out-of-office email

timeEmbrace your own priorities

Only time will tell what the workplace of the future will look like as technology continues to advance and our work and personal lives become even more tangled. Regardless, it is safe to say that the ongoing struggle of finding work-life balance will most likely always be a priority. Perhaps we should try not to be bullied by a perception, forget about what society and other people have to say about work-life balance, and embrace our own priorities instead. And always remember that other people have different schedules and priorities that always should be respected.

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