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Workplace BlackBerry Use May Spur Lawsuits 286

Posted by samzenpus
from the I've-worked-80-hours-this-week dept.
An anonymous reader writes "From an article on cnbc.com: 'As employers hand out electronic devices to their employees at a greater pace, there are growing concerns that workers eligible for overtime pay, known as non-exempt employees, could begin suing their employers for overtime hours earned while tapping on their devices during after-work hours. As a result, lawyers are advising their corporate clients to update their policies and handbooks related to BlackBerry use and reconsider who gets a device.'"
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Workplace BlackBerry Use May Spur Lawsuits

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:29PM (#24128563)

    It clearly separates you from the sheeple and establish your dominance over the herd. It establishes that you're a go-getter, instead of one of those hippies with an iphone.

    And everyone knows, blackberries make assholes more versatile [theonion.com].

  • Turned it down (Score:5, Interesting)

    by willyhill (965620) <pr8wak.gmail@com> on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:32PM (#24128585) Homepage Journal

    In 2003-2004 at my previous employer the company rolled out Blackberries to management and "key" personnel. Being responsible for a relatively large part of the infrastructure at this joint, I also got one.

    One day I arrived at work and found the messaging group folks had delivered the BBs to some of the people in my area, and there was a box in my desk as well, with a little booklet (the must have cost a fortune to print, it was that well done) with usage policy (of course), instructions and steps for setting it up. The younger kids were besides themselves and already setting up the sync cradles and sending messages to each other. I picked up the phone and called the project manager, who was a friend of mine. I asked him to send one of his people to pick the box up.

    "But everyone's getting one."
    "I don't care, I don't want it."
    "You are on Tier 1 and you're supposed to be on call..."
    "I am. I have a cell phone, and if the IPC melts down at 3 AM, someone can call me."
    "But this lets you check your email!"
    "That's exactly why I don't want it"

    A few days of back and forth politik ensued, and eventually my boss relented and let me be. Note that this was the time when the devices could not make phone calls - I hear they can now. Oh joy.

    I figured that once I had that thing I'd never be able to get away from it, even on vacation. And that's exactly what happened to everyone else. People won't think twice about sending you an email for stupid little things at 10:00 PM, because they're working and figure everyone else should be as well. But making a phone call is very different, and most people won't do it unless it's something really important. People think it's no big deal because it's just a message. Bullshit.

    If the data center is on fire, sure I want to know, no matter what time it is. But I don't want to hear little pings and murmurs from a PDA next to my bed because some VP couldn't find a file for tomorrow's presentation, or a fscking file server is down and Julie in accounting can't get to it. All that can wait until the morning.

    If I had taken the thing and ended up in that 24/7/365 situation I don't think I'd sue my employer, but I would have probably ended up leaving a lot sooner than I did. Probably even if I were eligible for overtime. A case of "they ain't paying me enough for this crap" if I ever saw one.

    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      My dad has one for his job, and whenever he comes to visit, it seems like he's answering an email at least once every half hour. I really think it's a great thing for CEOs, and people who really do need and want to be in contact 24 hours a day. But for most people, it's just extreme overkill, and makes the job so much less enjoyable. I think cell phones are good enough. If the problem isn't big enough that you can give the person a proper phone call, then it can probably wait until tomorrow.
      • Having just got off the phone to get a password from someone on vacation... I couldn't agree more. If you don't think it's important enough to wake someone up in New York when you're in California, then it can wait.
        OTOTH: When I was supporting a system that was supposed to be 24/7/365 we did have BBs that the Monitoring System would send alerts for down time... if it exceeded X minutes and didn't automagically come back up.... but PEOPLE didn't have the address for the thing. That was fine too. But I wou

    • Re:Turned it down (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jollyreaper (513215) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @11:07PM (#24128867)

      I figured that once I had that thing I'd never be able to get away from it, even on vacation. And that's exactly what happened to everyone else. People won't think twice about sending you an email for stupid little things at 10:00 PM, because they're working and figure everyone else should be as well. But making a phone call is very different, and most people won't do it unless it's something really important. People think it's no big deal because it's just a message. Bullshit.

      See, I never used mine that way when I had it. My policy was if it was really important, you gave me a call. Emails were only checked maybe twice a day on the weekends and if it wasn't important (which it hardly ever was) it would wait until Monday.

      Berries are one of those tools that are very good when used appropriately and hazardous to your well-being if used improperly. Most people use them improperly. I feel the exact same way about remote access tools. As an IT guy, I think they're great. I can log in, do the two second task I have to, and then I'm done. Regular employees don't like it because it means that the big pile of work on their desks feels like it's staring at them through the intertubes, demanding their attention. "I don't want to be able to work from home, I don't even want to know I'm able to do so!" some people have pleaded with me. I can understand.

      • Re:Turned it down (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Martin Blank (154261) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @11:18PM (#24128967) Journal

        I'm the same way. I give notice to my colleagues of when I'm going on vacation, and I make it clear to them that for the duration of my vacation, I will NOT have my Blackberry with me. To make the point doubly clear, on my last day before vacation, I will point out that the Blackberry is in its cradle at the end of the day, and not on my person.

        I am part of an on-call rotation. I will answer the phone if it rings while I'm not on-call, but I do not check my e-mail unless I hear it buzzing incessantly (I leave it on vibrate) for an inordinate amount of time, which means that a lot of messages are coming in and something is probably seriously broken and I'll be called anyway. If I am on-call, I check the subjects of messages but will only open them if they appear to be something about which I need to be concerned. Other than that, it goes back in the holster.

        The Blackberry has its use. Its use is not to enslave me. Considering that the employer recently took actions in my favor to try to ensure that I will not leave in the near future, I suspect they know that pushing me on this (if they were so inclined) would not improve their position.

        • Is it seriously so hard to ignore your blackberry that you won't take it with you on vacation? Vacation is probably the time when I'd want my blackberry the most. Considering that this is slashdot I may not be the only one here with an obsessive need for internet access 24/7, but even for the normies it's still damn useful. Especially if you're out of town, like if you were on a vacation. Don't know what model you have but the built-in GPS can be quite handy when going out of town, like if you were on a
          • It's the principle of the thing - a BlackBerry is, more than anything else, a 'chain' to keep you within reach of the boss 24/7. If I'm on vacation, damn right I'm taking the chain off.
            • If an employer is using it in that fashion, then I'd view a Blackberry as a tool to transfer funds into my pocket in chunks of 15 minutes x $SALARY at a time.

              Made me get up from the dinner table and spend 30 seconds sending a 20-word explanation on how to find that file for your presentation? Thanks for the 15 minutes worth of extra pay.

          • by Buran (150348)

            There's times I do wish it wouldn't ring, though. Like at movie theaters. They should put a movie-theater mode that you could just leave on when you don't want to be bothered by it.

            It's called the off switch or the vibrate mode. If it buzzes in your pocket, do have a care for the rest of the people in the theater and ignore it.

        • by Strider- (39683)
          It's sad, but I almost look forward to the time I spend sitting in an airline seat.. (I fly roughly 100 000 miles a year for work).. means people can't phone me. I've been on call 24/7 for the past two and a half years, and it's a testament to our product that I have kept my sanity. Maybe 2 or so middle of the night calls a week.
        • by houghi (78078)

          When I worked at a company, I got a portable. That stayed at the office, untill I needed it ofside for work.

          At an other comapny the on-call people had a Nokia Communicator. That way they could do small tasks remotely and still have the same number for an emergency for certain customers outside office hours.

          If I can not be missed during my off-hours, I either am doing it wrong or they are not paying me enough or both.

          Organise work so that people CAN work when you are not there. If your procedure tells you, y

    • by corbettw (214229) <corbettw@[ ]oo.com ['yah' in gap]> on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @11:09PM (#24128879) Journal

      Anyone else find it ironic that someone who complains about people bugging him at all hours of the night for work, has his twitter info in his sig?

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by momerath2003 (606823) *

        So, does that make him a twit?

      • by exley (221867)

        Wrong twitter... The twitter he's referring to is a fairly well known Slashole who uses multiple accounts to spread his mostly anti-MS agenda.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Danny Rathjens (8471)
      I'm surprised your employer wasn't the one telling you to leave. It sounds to me like a very simple case of an ornery old-timer not wanting to learn new technology - which is pretty absurd in this industry.

      I accepted the BB when they were given out and I only configured one particular e-mail alias to send mail to it - the one used by our system monitoring software. So I am notified when critical infrastructure goes down and can even ssh from the BB to our systems if needed but I don't read my normal work
      • by jimicus (737525)
        FWIW, I think the OP may have a point.

        Mainly because the idea of setting it up so you only get email on it if it comes from a specific address probably never even occurred - in fact, I daresay a lot of blackberry users aren't even aware it's possible.

        As soon as words gets back that this has been done it could go one of two ways:

        1. Everyone starts doing it. (Not necessarily a bad thing)
        2. Manager starts jumping up and down for someone "subverting" the system.

        I don't fancy risking option 2 myself.

    • Re:Turned it down (Score:4, Insightful)

      by SkyDude (919251) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @11:25PM (#24129005)

      You must be new here - you're much too normal to be a real /.er.

      One young whippersnapper made the comment that you must be an ornery old-time that didn't want to learn new technology. He may be joking, but he's probably a complete ageist, as you know your industry is full of them.

      While I appreciate and enjoy the incredible technology that has made the BB possible, these kids need to know there was a good life before BBs and cell phones and 24/7/365 connectivity. I don't want any of it to go away, but all the tech has one common trait - a switch that allows the user to turn them off. And if they don't, take out the damn battery.

      Life can be so quiet.......

    • Hey man, my time off of work is my time. I mute my company issued cell phone's ringer. Then I call back when I'm awake which is when they are usually sleeping. :-) They have learned since to call someone else.
    • Re:Turned it down (Score:5, Insightful)

      by radish (98371) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @11:36PM (#24129115) Homepage

      Well you don't have to look at it.

      I've carried a work BB for a few years now and I don't think it's been a negative thing at all. No one expects me to be checking email at the weekend so they still have to phone if it's urgent. If I'm on vacation the BB loses it's battery and goes in a drawer. However, if I want to check my morning meeting schedule before going to bed it takes 30 seconds (rather than having to fire up the VPN) and if I do get a call at some ungodly hour I can quickly check the mail trail to see what's been going on. I find it very convenient to be able to get to my work email quickly when I choose to, I don't feel under any pressure to do so more than I would do anyway.

      One thing I'm very clear about is that I still carry a personal phone. That way, when I'm not on company time I can choose whether to take the BB or not. Clear separation of work and home life is important.

    • by Em Ellel (523581)

      Grow some balls and be responsible for your self and your own work. It is just a tool - no one is standing over you with a gun to use it - and if they are you have a much bigger problem than a crappy PDA.

      As an employer I would expect my employees to do their job. If a tool like a blackberry is useful to someone, more power to them, if they don't want it, I couldn't care less. Does not get you off the hook for doing your job though. Now, your job either includes off-hour support or it does not. No PDA will c

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      Seems like the problem with Blackberries is their users, not the people messaging them. A phone call is for something urgent, an e-mail isn't. Unless you've got some dingwad who thinks e-mails should be replied to within five minutes, having e-mail available at all times is just fine so long as you have the discipline to either a) not read it, or b) not act on it.

    • Re:Turned it down (Score:4, Insightful)

      by metlin (258108) on Thursday July 10, 2008 @03:38AM (#24130739) Journal

      At the end of the day, it boils down to the lifestyle that you choose to have, I guess. Me, I cannot imagine my work life without my Blackberry.

      That said, it is a very conscious choice that I made. I am a management consultant (cue the Douglas Adams jokes), and if something needs to be done at 2 AM on a Saturday night while on vacation, I do it. Hell, my manager is on vacation in the Virgin Islands this week and I get emails from him at 5 AM asking for updates.

      To me, this is perfectly acceptable because I chose this lifestyle knowing full well the ramifications. I had a nice 9-5 corporate job, but at the end of the day, it was slow, work was challenging but not trying and there was a ton of mediocrity around. These days, I've a job where I fly out every week, work 60 hours on a good week and 80+ on a bad one, and it is strictly up or out. Given my lifestyle and the amount of travel I do, my Blackberry is my lifeline.

      And just to your point, at least in my friends circle, receiving phone calls at 10 PM, 12 AM or even 4 AM is not out of the ordinary (and we are not talking about IT, either - a lot of them are in consulting or finance). It is just part of the lifestyle that we chose, and to us, it is quite normal.

      That said, there are also times when folks decide to go incommunicado because they can't take it. That's fine, too. But I guess my point is that just because you can receive an email in the middle of the night does not mean you should reply to it. Secondly, you can always turn it on Silent - which is what I do if I do not want to be interrupted (important presentation, dinner date etc).

      And oh some level, I find it strange when someone does not want a Blackberry. My only phone is my Blackberry, and to me, it is a one-stop solution. My calendar, my address book, my email, IM and everything else is all rolled into one. I can travel wherever I want, and as long as I have my Blackberry, I am quite content.

      And to the point about compensation for overtime - while I do make a decent amount of money, I also put in enough of an effort in it. I do my job because I enjoy doing it, and folks that signed up for something knowing full well the outcome, and seek compensation later, should perhaps look for a different career path.

    • by Gnavpot (708731)

      People won't think twice about sending you an email for stupid little things at 10:00 PM, because they're working and figure everyone else should be as well.

      Uh, no.

      We mail other people at 22.00 because we are working at that time, and we expect other people to read the mail when they arrive next morning.

      If someone think he has to read my mail outside his working hours, that is his problem, not mine.

  • no way (Score:3, Insightful)

    by FudRucker (866063) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:32PM (#24128591)
    After I put my 8 or 10 hours in I get home and shut off the cellphone/pager/pda or any other gadget connected to work, I need some me time to eat & take a shower and put my feet up & relax, there is nothing that can not wait until tomorrow.

    If they fire me I will tell the boss, "I was looking for a job when I found this one".
    • Re:no way (Score:4, Funny)

      by Joebert (946227) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:41PM (#24128655) Homepage
      I agree with the me time, but

      If they fire me I will tell the boss, "I was looking for a job when I found this one".

      That's kinda like telling someone you know Martial Arts after they've just broken your nose.

    • From TFA:

      The average professional spends 50 minutes a day sending emails after work, according to a survey conducted by Cohesive Knowledge Solutions, a company that trains companies and employees on email efficiency.

      And since I spend NO time after work sending any work emails ... someone out there is spending an awful lot of time to make up for my slacking.

      Goldman said the discussion, "opened up this conversation: Is work done on a BlackBerry out of the office work?"

      Anything done on such a device after hour

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by flajann (658201)
        Too many in the US have this "gimmie something" attitude, not the attitude of "how I can be a better worker", or "how I can enhance my value to the company".

        Lots of lawsuits over this issue will change the work relationship between employee and employer -- to disadvantage the employee, I think. If you have the type of job you need to be on-call for, you obviously have much more value to your employer than a burger-flipper, and the worker should be looking to enhance that, not to sue for after-hours work.

        • i don't agree with your comment, but i also don't agree with it being modded flamebait, because it does address an important idea.

          do you live to work, or
          do you work to live.

          i don't think its its a selfish attitude to demand a fair amount of 'me-time'.

          I believe it is selfish for companies to demand that we sacrifice our 'me-time' to work unpaid overtime after we have put in a full day in the office. if they need people working my job 24/7, then that company can hire 3 people to work in shifts.
          why is it my p

        • by cayenne8 (626475)
          "Lots of lawsuits over this issue will change the work relationship between employee and employer -- to disadvantage the employee, I think. If you have the type of job you need to be on-call for, you obviously have much more value to your employer than a burger-flipper, and the worker should be looking to enhance that, not to sue for after-hours work."

          Make it easy on all...be upfront when you sign the contract...demand to be paid for every hour you work. Then, there is no need to sue.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Too many in the US have this "gimmie something" attitude, not the attitude of "how I can be a better worker", or "how I can enhance my value to the company".

          You must have to have a pretty empty life for those things to be the most important issues in it.

      • by dfm3 (830843) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @11:31PM (#24129077) Journal

        And since I spend NO time after work sending any work emails ... someone out there is spending an awful lot of time to make up for my slacking.

        Yeah, I know that person. I work for them...

        Maybe there's a generational gap here, but as a 20-something just entering the working world, I've found it striking how those 20-30 years older than myself have come to see email as the Infallible Silver Bullet of instant office communication. Email isn't always reliable, or instant, or even secure, yet it's increasingly treated that way.

        For example, I receive one-liner emails from someone sitting at a computer in an office less than 30 feet from mine. Just walk over and ask your question, you know where I am. Well, okay, so I'm not always at the computer- in which case I'll get a followup email (or two) within 10 minutes asking why I haven't replied to the first message. We have numerous people who use email as an instant message service, shooting single sentence messages back and forth all day long. Our workstations even come with an IM client installed, and I've tried to instruct people to use it, but nobody does. They'd rather make a show out of spending at least an hour or two every day "doing email", as it's called around the office.

        I'm convinced that the use of Blackberries will only make the problem worse. Email is quickly becomming the text messaging of the workplace, something it was never designed nor intended for. God help me if the boss ever gets a Blackberry, and figures out how to use it...

    • there is nothing that can not wait until tomorrow.

      This applies to your job, and if you enforce it, then I applaud you. Some of us aren't so lucky and have to maintain 24/7 shops. However, as I mention above, it's still possible to craft personal rules within policy that ensure that my time actually is my time, and not stolen by the employer.

  • by wvmarle (1070040) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:38PM (#24128637)

    Blackberries are imho meant for those people who for whatever reason can't stop working. Business owners, sales people working on commission only, that idea. And of course that are exactly the people for whom working hours don't count. I'm one of them, even though I don't have nor want a blackberry. If people need to reach me so urgently they can use the phone.

    This also makes me wonder, what is a blackberry doing in the hands of employees with fixed working hours? Why are they given one by the company in the first place? This are generally the lower ranked people (now I don't know US labour laws very much) - they have fixed working hours obviously, and are supposed to do (and finish) their work within those hours. I can't think of any reason why they would possibly need one such devices. They are at work, then work, and then will have a computer at hand. If it is the kind of employee that is supposed to run around all the time, e-mail won't be of much interest for them either.

    No matter what I think this is mostly a story about the inappropriate use of a technology. The enormous urge of being "ahead of the pack" when it comes to adapting new tech. It is high tech, it is new, "everybody" uses it, etc. That kind of thinking. It sounds like a disconnect between the ideas of the top management and the actual tasks of the workers.

    Add to that the idea that all employees want to be important, and having a blackberry these days is for sure equivalent to being important (until recently it were only the high-fliers that would have a need for it and could afford one), so everybody will happily accept a blackberry without thinking about whether they really need one. And then those lower ranked employees also get addicted, forget that they have working hours, start working overtime, and poof, lawsuit!

    I truly hope the employees lose in this case, as I consider it unasked for overtime. Completely voluntary overtime. Unless the employers gave the blackberry with the message "now you are reachable at all times", in which case the employer deserves to lose - if only for sheer stupidity.

    • by cylcyl (144755)

      I truly hope the employees lose in this case, as I consider it unasked for overtime. Completely voluntary overtime.

      But isn't your boss sending you a message at 10PM and giving you a blackberry so that he knows you can receive it an implicit request to work overtime?

      • by clarkkent09 (1104833) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @11:19PM (#24128983)
        I think it depends on the content of the message rather than the means of sending it. If the message says "Get X done by the morning", or "Reply immediately" then it is, whether it is sent by blackberry or phone or whatever. But there are many messages a boss might send after hours (perhaps just because he is working late, and that includes sending emails) that don't require any action until the following day.
        • by MrCreosote (34188)

          "But there are many messages a boss might send after hours (perhaps just because he is working late, and that includes sending emails) that don't require any action until the following day.

          In which case I will action it when I read the email after I get to work the next morning.

  • by Peyna (14792)

    Exactly how many employees who are required to carry a blackberry and perform work on it are also "non-exempt"?

  • by gillbates (106458) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:46PM (#24128699) Homepage Journal

    They've been issued for far longer than Blackberries and haven't spurned lawsuits so far.

    Basically, it's not a question of the technology: if you have hourly employees working unreported time, you're asking for trouble. The labor laws are fairly clear in this matter. Whether it's on a Blackberry, laptop, or otherwise is beside the point.

    But let's not forget that employers can simply reclassify their hourly employees as salaried and get as much unpaid overtime as they want. And that's perfectly legal, Blackberry or not. This question is more a matter of your employer's semantic classification of your job than whether or not you get paid for your overtime.

    • by flajann (658201)
      I'd like to see less government involvement in the workplace, and just let the employee and employer agree on work conditions and rules and expectations.

      Don't like the policies? Go get another job. It's that easy, really.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mrroot (543673)

        I'd like to see less government involvement in the workplace, and just let the employee and employer agree on work conditions and rules and expectations. Don't like the policies? Go get another job. It's that easy, really.

        It's not really that simple. It might work in the case of a few bad companies, but what if all companies adopt the same work conditions? That is the thing about pure capitalism, that companies can become too greedy at the expense of human beings, so there needs to be a balance of regulations that protect the factors that are not purely financial (human health, environmental, safety, non-discrimination, etc). This happened a lot in the industrial revolution before labor laws and still happens in other pa

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Pig Hogger (10379)

        I'd like to see less government involvement in the workplace, and just let the employee and employer agree on work conditions and rules and expectations.

        Don't like the policies? Go get another job. It's that easy, really.

        I'd like to see one of those stony heart libertarians get really fucked-up in the arse to the hilt by one of those wall-to-wall lawyered mega croporations and lose everything down to the last fermion of his soul.

        Then we'll see if he's still against "government involvement" in life...

      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        I agree with you, except where it applies to worker safety. People will work quite hard for money, and even put their life in danger, if it's the only job they can find. Sure you could say they are stupid for doing it, but then you've probably never been in a situation where the choice was food or descend into an unsafe mine shaft. Set up whatever crazy work hours and pay rate you want. But as soon as the actual health and well being of the employee comes into concern, the government should have some
    • by afidel (530433) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @11:03PM (#24128843)
      Actually you can't arbitrarily classify someone exempt. There are fairly strict (were much stricter before Bush) guidlines about who is, and who is not exempt. Basically your job had to either be managerial or tightly classified as a purely creative job with the ability to set your own schedule in order to be classified as exempt.
    • by spasm (79260)

      University of California policy is if one of your non-exempt employees replies to emails you sent them out of work hours you're supposed to reprimand them, for exactly this issue - if someone sues the university for unpaid overtime and can show a string of timestamps on emails to their supervisor of record outside normal work hours, this demonstrates a) they were doing uncompensated overtime, and, more importantly, b) their supervisor knew about it and did not stop it, which counts as approval in the eyes o

    • by jimicus (737525)

      They've been issued for far longer than Blackberries and haven't spurned lawsuits so far.

      Basically, it's not a question of the technology: if you have hourly employees working unreported time, you're asking for trouble. The labor laws are fairly clear in this matter. Whether it's on a Blackberry, laptop, or otherwise is beside the point.

      Not and yes.

      The laptop doesn't automatically bleep at you every time you get an email and isn't designed to be left on running purely on battery power for days at a time.

  • Have you tried ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mrroot (543673) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:49PM (#24128721)
    ... setting personal boundaries and expectations with your employer and co-workers? Just because you have a Blackberry does not make you an indentured servant.

    On a side note, I had a previous employer offer me a Blackberry as an enticement to stay when I gave my notice to leave. Needless to say my decision remained the same.

    I own a Blackberry (my own, I'm self employed and also an ISV of a Blackberry app) and the biggest complaint I have about them is many companies hand them out as status symbols and not to the people who could really make good use of them.
    • by jollyreaper (513215) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @11:12PM (#24128903)

      I own a Blackberry (my own, I'm self employed and also an ISV of a Blackberry app) and the biggest complaint I have about them is many companies hand them out as status symbols and not to the people who could really make good use of them.

      My biggest complaint is that people keep fiddling with them in meetings. When people call me over for help on something and then take a five minute personal call, I leave. "Where did you go?" Back somewhere productive. Bad enough when we're talking about going to someone's desk, it's absolutely infuriating when there's a big meeting and everyone is on the berries. New rule: your berry gets turned off and goes in the basket. Your people know the room you're in; if something important happens, you will be paged.

      Personally, I think it's incredibly rude to let a phone call interrupt a conversation. It's one thing if it's someone's boss calling, nothing can be done about that, same as if he pokes his head in the door. But anything less than that, ask if it's important, if not, call them back! Big pet peeve.

      • My biggest complaint is that people keep fiddling with them in meetings.

        If meetings where more interesting and actually valuable, people would not be so inclined to >i>playing solitaire during them.

      • Etiquette guide (Score:3, Informative)

        by dustpuppy (5260)

        I remember reading an etiquette guide where the rule of thumb was 'proximity'.

        So if you are talking to someone face to face and you get a phone call/pager/email/IM, then you ignore those and focus on the face to face conversation because that person is closer.

        Or if you are on phone call, and you get a pager/email/IM, then the caller is 'closer' to you (since you are engaged in a real-time voice conversation) and you would ignore the others including the IM (which is real-time, but less 'close' since it's no

      • FWIW - its totally cultural. In Korea (yeah, cue the jokes) answering a cell phone almost always takes priority over whatever is going on in person and that's considered absolutely normal. I've heard Japan is the same way, but maybe to a lesser extent.

      • by houghi (78078)

        But anything less than that, ask if it's important, if not, call them back! Big pet peeve.

        I always say that when I am working. Sometimes I even just pick up with "I'm busy". The person on the other side will then most of the time say 'OK' and hang up or if it is really importand start saying what the problem is so I can decide what the priority is.

        I hate it when I call people and do an explanation and at the end of it say "I will have to call you back. I am in a meeting." That is rude to me and rude to the

  • It's their choice (Score:3, Interesting)

    by IkeTo (27776) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:57PM (#24128795)

    I've got a friend who have been given one. In my opinion it's both good and bad. The good side is that if you must send an E-mail, you can, and you don't have to stop your leisure and go home or go to workplace. The bad side is that more people expect you to reply quickly. But if you don't start replying quickly, few get such expectation. So my friend end up not attending to that new gadget when peaceful moments are more desired (which is most of the time).

    At the end of the day, it's just a tool. They give it to you, it's their right. You might watch for message in it every second you're not sleeping, or you might just turn it off unless somebody makes you a phone call and you decide it is urgent enough, it's your choice. They can fire you, but they can always do so anyway.

  • Sure (Score:4, Interesting)

    by iamacat (583406) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @11:09PM (#24128877)

    You have to pay for people to work. What a novel concept.

    • I'm going to come clean your car. I'm going to charge you $10,000. You didn't ask me to do it, but I decided to anyway - now pay me.
      • by iamacat (583406)

        If I hired you for $10000/hour, issued you a corporate blackberry and asked you to be on call 24/7 as well as frequently check in and inquire weather the car has crashed and needs to be restored, your claim sounds legit.

        During regular hours, people are usually in office and for occasional evening calls people can just burn through a few rollover minutes on their personal cell and in the worst case submit an $5 expense report. If a company is willing to pay $100/month for your wireless plan, you can bet they

  • I agree! (Score:5, Funny)

    by filesiteguy (695431) <kai@perfectreign.com> on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @11:13PM (#24128915) Homepage
    I actually tell my employees specifically that - if they're not on call - they should not answer blackberries for work use when off.

    Now, I do think it provides some leeway - I have some employees who I allow somewhat flexible hours and for that they trade some amount of availiblity.

    Others, I just like to irritate by sending emails a 4:30AM. :P

    Oh, wait, my master is buzzing...
  • by jroysdon (201893) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @11:25PM (#24129007) Homepage

    It's really not that hard to ignore them. I've had one for about a year (the 8830). I tune out the blinking red light when I'm not working, or if it is annoying me I turn the phone upside down so I cannot see it.

    I find it very useful when I'm on site and I can keep up a bit more, whereas otherwise I'd be a day or two behind on emails.

  • by binaryspiral (784263) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @11:25PM (#24129011)

    I'm currently a IT professional that is actually paid overtime for > 40 hours of work per week. Guess what - I don't have a blackberry.

    If I want to earn more money, the next pay grade is exempt and (shocking) includes a blackberry.

    It's like looking at crackpipe and trying to talk yourself into it. :\

  • Don't use it after business hours. Make it clear that if there is an emergency (a real emergency, as in money lost by the second kind of emergency)you should be called.

  • by Etcetera (14711) on Thursday July 10, 2008 @12:00AM (#24129285) Homepage

    If something is down, you've got 140 characters or so to tell me about it. If it takes more than that, it's either not serious enough to make me care about, or it's serious enough for you to call me about.

    Either way I'm fine with my LG 10000 Voyager, and personal laptop to remote in when travelling if needed beyond that.

    They day I have a blackberry is they day I've sold my soul (and/or am making more ... heh).

  • by arthurpaliden (939626) on Thursday July 10, 2008 @12:06AM (#24129327)
    If it is really important thay will send the police.
  • by skelly33 (891182) on Thursday July 10, 2008 @12:14AM (#24129403)
    The problem is not the device - there's a lot of chatter in this thread about the pros and cons of such portable devices, but the core issue is employers who have no regard for employees' personal time and who routinely break wage and hour laws.

    Improper handling of "exempt" employee status is probably the most frequently screwed up HR liability in the corporate world because half of managers "heard somewhere" at one point that if you're on salary you're exempt. Wrong. The same people fabricated "flex time" which has no basis in law in the state of California (maybe in other places).

    The level of ignorance in upper management with regard to employees rights is mind-numbing.
  • by SirKron (112214) <brian.kronberg@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Thursday July 10, 2008 @12:33AM (#24129537)
    I have been telling my clients this for years. Wisconsin law clearly says that if a manager knowingly allows an hourly employee to do work at home then they must be compensated for their time. So, all my designs include the ability to and documentation on how to disable mobile access, remote email access, etc. for hourly and other non-exempt employees. If the employee saves all their email they can export all the email sent by them after hours, compile the data, and then prove a pattern of working in the evenings. If they were a 30 - hour employee they can sue for the remaining hours and benefits. This is a lot of risk for employers.
  • that companies would actually give, let alone expect non-exempt employees to be in contact after hours. There are very few nob-exempt positions at the company I work for and they're relatively simple tasks. If you're actually someone who needs to be in contact with others on a regular basis, like myself, who gets calls at 10pm or 2am for "emergencies" then you're an exempt aka salaried position, which also means I get to leave when I want when it's dead...of course I have worked 14 days straight near deadli

  • Boundaries (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dark-nl (568618) <dark@xs4all.nl> on Thursday July 10, 2008 @05:02AM (#24131149)
    From the article:

    Song recommends telling employers that you can't be reached after a certain time every night. Employees should tell their bosses that not being connected 24/7 will increase productivity when they're in the office, and explain "what's in it for your boss if you have quiet time," he said.

    If you make that argument, you have already lost. It means you have given your boss the authority to rearrange your life for greater productivity; you're just giving advice on the best way to do it. To establish boundaries, you should let them make the first move. Just don't respond to emails or calls outside of working hours. If they want you to be available for work during certain hours, they need to negotiate those hours and convince you -- preferably with arguments you can take to the bank.

  • by ehaggis (879721) on Thursday July 10, 2008 @07:15AM (#24131683) Homepage Journal
    From the article, "Although experts said that they are not aware of any current lawsuits, they said it's inevitable."

    The lawyers are stirring the pot. Nothing else to see, move along. These are not the lawsuits you are looking for.
  • by eepok (545733) on Thursday July 10, 2008 @11:39AM (#24135769) Homepage

    I'll be the first to tell you that I hate my cell phone. When I got to undergrad, everyone was getting one. We knew it would be a part of life. I resisted until my 4th year and still made sure that it was a bare-bones phone-- a brick by modern standards. No internet, no special ringtones, nothing that would potentially add additional cost to my life.

    When I entered the work force after graduation, everyone wanted to give their cell numbers to their various supervisors. I didn't. When asked by my supervisor why I didn't, I told him:

    1) You don't pay for my minutes
    2) You don't pay me for taking calls and doing work before 8am nor after 5pm
    3) I don't like phones, let alone cell phones.

    He and I had a very humorous conversation until I asked him why *he* gave his cell number to *his* supervisor. "It just streamlines everything. It's less work," he responded.

    "Less work" I retort. "Tell me, without a cell phone, how much work would you do in the car on the way to and from work? How much work would you do at lunch? How much work would you do traveling from point-A and point-B on the job?"

    "I wouldn't get any work done. That's the problem," he insisted.

    "No, you're missing something... you said cell phones help you do less work. However, you do work in all that time where, prior to cell phones, you did no work. The drive to work was relaxing. On the drive home, you could think about home, not the office. You could relax at lunch. You're commuting from one meeting to another during the day so you're already working for the company/school -- so how are you doing less work when you're working when you shouldn't?"

    He paused, opened his mouth, closed it again, and breathed.

    I start again, "... and do you pay for your phone and minutes? Or does the company/school?"

    "Well it's my phone. I pay for it," he says.

    "And who uses it more: you for your life or the company/school through you as its employee?"

    He smiles as if empowered. "You're right. If I'm working off the clock, the very least the company/school could do is pay for this phone or another and the minutes."

    "Now you're talking. Of course, you could even record the minutes you work in your off time and claim them as time put in. Remember, the company/school only works in 15-minute increments so, round up where necessary," I say with a grin.

    Afterward: A month later, the company/school ended its policy of requesting (requiring) employees give up their cell numbers. If they needed you to be on call, they'd buy you a cell phone and subscription. The people didn't get paid for their time on the phone, but it was a start.

    After-Afterward: I still don't give my cell number out to anyone but Human Resources. Those guys are rabid bulldogs about privacy and will only call me in an emergency or if there's something wrong with my paycheck.

Byte your tongue.

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