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Handhelds Communications Hardware IT

Does Constant Access Shatter the Home/Work Boundary? 321

StonyandCher has passed us a link to, once again raising the tough topic of work/life separation. A department of the Australian government went ahead with a purchase of dozens of Blackberry communication devices, but is now delaying their deployment. The reason: "Staff expressed fears about BlackBerries contributing to a longer working day and felt it was going a step too far because mobile phones are adequate for out-of-office contact. Not everyone agreed, however, with some senior executives claiming a BlackBerry can contribute to work/life balance by facilitating telecommuting and more flexible schedules. " For the time being this issue is on hold for those staffers, but how does this issue fall for you? Is constant accessibility freeing or just another chain around your neck?
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Does Constant Access Shatter the Home/Work Boundary?

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  • by yagu ( 721525 ) * <<moc.liamg> <ta> <ugayay>> on Friday December 14, 2007 @11:22AM (#21697462) Journal

    I know employers can apply pressure, but employees should try to establish early and firmly what extended accessibility means. Pagers have been around for millenia, Blackberrys simply give better message.

    Arrange and agree to a schedule for which you consider yourself "on call", publish those times, and make it clear you aren't "on call" when you aren't.

    Personally, I see the encroachment more often by those who have some tension with their personal life whereby this constant connectivity to their job elevates somehow their status, and provides instant and real-time reason/excuse to be unavailable in their personal lives. In other words, lots of those who "get connected" like this do so willingly, and with a certain sense of self-importance.

    My other observation has been that those who are not to be bothered by work when they're not expected to be available off-hours simply don't carry their Blackberry, or turn it off.

    I know there's always the exception, but I think most employer-employee relationships can and do strike equilibrium with minimal fuss. If your employer is that horrid in their insistence and demands, find another employer. I did.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by phillips321 ( 955784 )
      It wont be long before people find the solution to this problem... []
      • This is clearly an intractable problem that cannot be solved any other way. Blame the technology!

        Seriously, no piece of technology can be blamed for poor time management. Neither can one blame one's manager for allowing that person to manage your time poorly for you.

        This is an issue of ownership. Own your job, own your time, and take responsibility for yourself. If everyone's doing what they should be doing, then this discussion is moot. If everyone's not doing what they should be doing, then how abou

    • by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Friday December 14, 2007 @11:33AM (#21697598) Journal
      Seriously - Those of us who are SysAdmins have dealt with this for ages...

      You negotiate beforehand what happens when the pager goes off - either you get 'overtime', comp-time off, or your salary begins large enough to compensate you for the projected time spent on pager-duty. Not much different w/ a Crackberry...

      If you get one issued to you, demand compensation for the added work that's sure to come with it - either through more flexible scheduling, more money, more comp/vacation time, or something substantial.

      I have a decent setup where I'm at now - if I get a call, then the time spent gets deducted the next day or day after, or they pay me overtime based on 1.5x my salary broken down to an hourly rate (based on a typical 40hr week). Pretty simple after that.

      Now, if you're adamant about delineated time-off vs. time-on, then simply state as much before you start.

      But, like the parent said... most employers are perfectly okay with this, and it's only a minimum of haggle. Any employer who isn't needs to be dropped for one who is.


      • by afidel ( 530433 ) on Friday December 14, 2007 @01:04PM (#21698926)
        For a sysadmin continuous access can actually enhance the balance. I don't have to drive in for every little problem because I have integrated lights out on all my servers so only a true hardware failure requires a trip into the office on off hours. Having a smartphone makes it even better because now instead of having to have a laptop with me or doing it from my home workstation I can now do many non-complicated tasks from anywhere (such as at the bar).
        • by racermd ( 314140 ) on Friday December 14, 2007 @01:27PM (#21699240)
          The issue of whether constant connectivity is a benefit or not greatly depends on the individual.

          For example, as an IT worker myself, I think having that 24x7 accessibility to my work can be a benefit, but it's also the greatest source of my frustration. As a result, I've stopped carrying such devices for business use.

          I've been much happier carrying only a cell phone - that I pay for - that I can turn off when I'm out of the office. I've made it a point to separate work and home. Since I started doing that a few years ago, I'm much less stressed and can focus more. Work stuff stays at work and my personal life can stay out of the office.

          When it's mandated that I be available 24x7 for a period of time (such as an on-call rotation or a major project), I still weigh my choices and, if it's too demanding, I'll decline. Yes, even if it's career-limiting decision. Usually, it's not a problem and, in fact, some managers have gained respect for such a decision (even if they didn't think so at the time they asked).

          Obviously, others will have differing points of view. However, it's important to keep a balance. That balance will differ from person to person.
      • This is fine for a sysadmin who is coming in and negotiating a new contract.

        It's different for salaried staff who are on an existing contract. They can get the worst of both worlds:

        On one hand, they get handed the crackberry and expected to respond to it on lunch, breaks and after hours.

        on the other hand, it can be 2-4 years before the next round of contract talks which would deal with this change -- and, even then, the crackberry issue (if it's only one, small department affected) could just fall off the
    • by MBCook ( 132727 ) <> on Friday December 14, 2007 @11:35AM (#21697624) Homepage

      I agree. It's the employee's fault. They're willing to put up with it. There was a time before cell phones when the same kind of thing was true. If you were a town doctor in the 1800s, you think you got to say "I'm only open 8-5, M-F"? People got sick when they got sick. Accountants didn't have to take their work home, but it was known that as a doctor you were on call all the time.

      If you don't like it, push back, let your work know that when you aren't on call, you're not on call. This is just a boundaries issue. People don't want to set them (afraid of repercussions, don't know they have the option, like the "piece of mind" they get from being able to watch what's going on at work, whatever)... so they put up with this.

      Blackberries are just a symptom/enabler. They make this problem easier to occur than during the '60s (when bringing your work home or to vacation meant hauling a bunch of papers and books and such).

      People just need to learn to adapt to this change and handle it. Just like people are being forced to invent manners and limits for other things that weren't considered before (like cell phones). That's our transition that we're going through now.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by SetupWeasel ( 54062 )
        If you don't like it, push back, let your work know that when you aren't on call, you're not on call. This is just a boundaries issue.

        No, no. This is an employment issue. You could lose your job for "pushing back." Some people don't have that option.
        • by MBCook ( 132727 ) <> on Friday December 14, 2007 @11:55AM (#21697888) Homepage

          If you don't want to be on call, don't take a job that expects you to be on call. If the job you took didn't including being on call and they want you to be, tell them no... that wasn't in the job description. You could negotiate for something ("You want me to start being on call, that's an expansion in my responsibilities, will my compensation go up as well?"). If you took a job where you were on call and don't like it too bad. That's the job you took and you signed up for it.

          If everyone who had this problem actually stood up, they wouldn't fire people because there wouldn't be enough people left. You're not helpless.

          Also, remember that some of these people don't have that responsibility. They just check their blackberry out of habit. They don't need to. It's all their choice. They aren't being forced into it, they are choosing it then complaining about it.

          Work doesn't have to be fun. It's a means to an end: being able to take care of and feed yourself and your family. It's not your personal satisfaction center. That's nice if it is, but people used to understand that. A lot of this just sounds like whining to me.

          • by SetupWeasel ( 54062 ) on Friday December 14, 2007 @12:11PM (#21698124) Homepage
            If everyone who had this problem actually stood up, they wouldn't fire people because there wouldn't be enough people left. You're not helpless.

            Yes, but if you are the only one...

            Also, remember that some of these people don't have that responsibility. They just check their blackberry out of habit. They don't need to. It's all their choice. They aren't being forced into it, they are choosing it then complaining about it.

            I am a tutor. I have taken shit from my boss, because she couldn't reach me Wednesday night to change my schedule for Thursday. Changing my hours at will was not in the job description, and I don't even make enough at the job to sustain me. I look for more or other work. I've been looking for 4 months, and guess what? If I find a job that will be a dick about my free time, I have to take it.

            Work doesn't have to be fun. It's a means to an end: being able to take care of and feed yourself and your family. It's not your personal satisfaction center. That's nice if it is, but people used to understand that. A lot of this just sounds like whining to me.

            Spoken like management. There was a time when jobs offered benefits, job security, and respect for their employees.
            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by MBCook ( 132727 )

              I'm not management. I'm a 24 year old programmer. I'm not anyone's superior. A job is just a job. You think people loved working in coal mines? They did/do it because they have to. It puts food on the table. Some may like it, but they know it's hard work and has to be done. Good jobs offered benefits, security, and such. Mine does. But not all do. Pizza delivery people never got perks or job security.

              You're in a people business, and in those kind of jobs being able to be reached for things like scheduling

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                Obviously a McDonald's burger flipper couldn't say this stuff if it applied to them, they would be replaced too easily.

                A McDonald's burger flipper probably gets paid an hourly rate, and I bet they expect more pay if they work more hours. It's ironic that in "better" jobs like those in IT, a culture has developed among a certain type of employer that "It's a salaried position" is an acceptable euphemism for "We own your soul, 24/7".

                As others have noted, the correct solution to this problem is for all the good people to collectively turn around and tell the over-demanding employers where to go. A competitive employment ma

                • "A McDonald's burger flipper probably gets paid an hourly rate, and I bet they expect more pay if they work more hours. It's ironic that in "better" jobs like those in IT, a culture has developed among a certain type of employer that "It's a salaried position" is an acceptable euphemism for "We own your soul, 24/7".

                  This is wrong thinking IMHO. Why NOT be an hourly worker for IT? Do like I did, incorporate yourself (I did an "S" corp), and the do corp-to-corp contracting. It need not be a few months here a

            • by Firethorn ( 177587 ) on Friday December 14, 2007 @12:56PM (#21698800) Homepage Journal
              Spoken like management. There was a time when jobs offered benefits, job security, and respect for their employees.

              Hah! Obviously you haven't studied history much. That period was actually very unusual in history.

              It used to be that if you got hurt at work you'd lose your job. Likely become unemployed, or have to find another career or become a beggar if the injury wasn't temporary. Safety equipment was rare. We're talking about the heyday of railroads and 'big oil'.

              Unions, safety regulations, and some smart employers(Like Mr. Ford) combined with a labor crunch changed that, at least for a while.

              Then hiring US citizens became too expensive and stuff was outsourced to other countries where the old conditions prevailed because it was cheaper.

              I look for more or other work. I've been looking for 4 months, and guess what? If I find a job that will be a dick about my free time, I have to take it.

              If you want to change things, realize that you might have to move, get training to go into a different career field, change your income expectations, etc...

              Basically, you need to realize that it takes intelligent effort to get what you want.

              You do what it takes to keep a roof over your family's head, food in their mouths, shoes on their feet. After that, then you can work towards personal satisfaction. That's just how it is(or at least should be). That's what my grandparents did. That's what my parents did. That's what I do.
              • by Omestes ( 471991 ) <> on Friday December 14, 2007 @02:04PM (#21699742) Homepage Journal
                Your reason confuses me, and its sad I see it so much here on /.

                It seems the average slashbot has decided regression equals progress. I don't see how increasing employer culpability, and the environment of the worker was an undesirable, nor do I see how the opposite is in any way a good thing (unless you some sociopath only concerned with the bottom line, and not the stuff that matters).

                Yes we've had workers rights for a small period of time, but I don't see that as a reason for its desired transience. Most cultures, too, have only seen the abolition of slavery, suffrage, and the germ theory of disease for a short period of time too, would be be so apathetic about losing them too?
                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by Firethorn ( 177587 )

                  I'm not talking about what employers should or should not be doing. I'm talking about what YOU should be doing to support your family. It's an acknowledgement of reality, not a statement of how things should be. Should employers be required to have a safe working enviroment, and be held liable if they don't? Yes, they should. But 'should' doesn't necessarily cut it in the real world. It can be far too late by the time the court system finishes going through the evidence.

                  It's along my beliefs ab
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              Yes, but if you are the only one...

              IME, if your point is reasonable, you will not be the only one.

              A while ago, my (formerly small and privately owned) employer was bought out by a much larger corporation. One of the first things they did was try to change everyone's contract to their national standard boilerplate. Unfortunately, that boilerplate included clauses that affect life outside work. They required permission to get any additional paid work, even things like playing semi-pro musical gigs at your local bar for beer money, or tutor

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by somersault ( 912633 )
      For some reason I got incredibly excited about the idea of being able to access company email remotely, mostly just because of the geek factor. I've had to setup a few blackberrys for some of my users and I hated them, but I like how Windows Mobile Direct PUSH synchronises directly with our Exchange server without any modifications (obviously because they're both microsoft products, but exchange is one of the few Microsoft products that is worth the money..). Anyway, after being excited about it for a coupl
      • even if you're an MD or something (where it's more likely that you really do need to be connected).

        At least MD's are traditionally excellently paid in exchange for being there to handle emergencies and other urgent situations.

        They also, at least later in life, are able to reduce their workload in other ways to compensate - like having office hours be 10-4 for routine stuff.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by trbofly ( 762792 )
      Now, I imagine I make a little more than the likely (14$ per hour) average /. reader, however I have been on-call my entire career.

      Since 19 I have carried a pager, cell phone, laptop, or some combination of the three with me where ever I go. Its in my car at all times or within 5 mins of where I am. (Except my private motorcycle times when the weather is warm)

      My wife knew what she was getting into when she married me, so it hasnt been an issue of contention there. Aside from 1 CEO who abused my availabil
      • by eln ( 21727 )
        [quote]Now, I imagine I make a little more than the likely (14$ per hour) average /. reader, however I have been on-call my entire career.[/quote]

        I think (or hope) you're vastly underestimating the average /. reader's salary there, but who knows. At any rate, that level of pay is way too low to be on call 24x7 in my opinion, unless you live in a third world country or get massive bonuses for pager pay.

        Anyway, when I worked at small mom and pop ISPs where I was the only sysadmin (or one of two or three), I
    • You are correct: employees *should* be able to manage this.

      But, in the real world, situations vary.

      Pagers have been around for millenia, Blackberrys simply give better message.

      With pagers, someone had to make the conscious decision to bother someone at the other end of a pager. With Blackberry devices, someone in Japan might send an email - when it is convenient for them - to someone in New York when it is not convenient. If the recipient hasn't configured the device's privacy schedule, then they will be
      • by jacksonj04 ( 800021 ) <> on Friday December 14, 2007 @01:33PM (#21699314) Homepage
        I've often wondered about why 'privacy' and 'silent' options on phones are so poor. What I'd like is the ability to set up rules similar to these:
        - Calls from this number are emergency, always ring.
        - Between 5pm and 9am, and all day weekends, defer this group to voicemail
        - When in 'meeting' mode send everyone to voicemail except for my boss, who gets a vibrate alert but not a ring.
        On andy device (Can you do those with Blackberry privacy profiles?). Perhaps also with some form of short range 'hinting' available for certain types of places, for example cinemas can suggest to your phone that they enter a discreet mode (Nothing except for your 'emergency' numbers for example), or for hospitals to suggest to phones that they enter a limited usage mode (Intensive care wards, A&E, theatres etc force phones to airplane mode)
  • Yes, it's a problem (Score:5, Informative)

    by s.d. ( 33767 ) on Friday December 14, 2007 @11:25AM (#21697490)
    Aside from the fact that my manager sometimes asks me to take my BlackBerry with me when I go on vacation (which I refuse to do), it's really easy to just look at it in the evenings or on weekends to see if there's any mail and check on things. I have taken to setting the automatic power down/power on setting, so I am not tempted to sneak a peak when I walk past it when I'm at home. I never check work mail on the computer in my free time, but the BlackBerry makes it so easy, it doesn't feel like I'm working until I've sunk 2 hours into something that could have waited until the morning.
    • by eln ( 21727 )
      This is exactly why I don't have a phone with email capability. If I ever do get one, I won't configure it for my work email. My cell phone number is readily available to anyone with an emergency situation at the office. If they need it, they can use it (but someone had better be dying if they do, or someone will be dying shortly after). I do occasionally check my work email from home, but I never, ever answer it from home (and believe me, sometimes that takes some effort to avoid). Anything sent by em
  • Just turn it off (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Hanners1979 ( 959741 )
    Staff expressed fears about BlackBerries contributing to a longer working day

    Just going out on a limb here, but couldn't they switch it off when they don't want to be working?
    • by DeeQ ( 1194763 ) on Friday December 14, 2007 @11:32AM (#21697582)
      The problem with just turning them off is the company will frown upon that. They didn't purchase these for their employees to not use them. No matter how you look at it weather it be only 5 extra min or 2 hours of extra work being accessible via Email at any time. People want to go home after a long days work and not have to deal with all the problems of them. I can see why they would be fearing having them, but turning them off could arise problems with staff.
      • If you're really too lily-livered to just turn the machine off when you're alseep/with the kids/can't be arsed just say the darn this was broken/malfunctionning and get back to it when you can.
  • Yes. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheRealFixer ( 552803 ) * on Friday December 14, 2007 @11:27AM (#21697508)
    At least, I know it does for me. There are plenty of times now I wish we had never gotten these stupid Blackberries. Once your management knows that they can get a hold of you via email any time, any place, they suddenly expect that to be the norm. With plain old cell phones, it requires a personal interaction that feels much more intrusive. When you shoot off an email, it doesn't feel the same. You don't feel bad about it, like you do when you call someone and interrupt their dinner. Which makes people much more likely to do it.
    • See I would have thought it'd go the other way. I feel like I can safely ignore email since if it were urgent I would receive a phone call. I suppose being the curious gentleman that I am I would be tempted to check my email more frequently with the blackberry. Wouldn't the problem be in how the employee handles the email? If you can ignore the temptation to read your email on your time or simply don't act on it until you're on the clock what's the harm? If an employer expects you to always be on call and t
    • Email doesn't feel intrusive precisely because it /isn't/ immediate. You haven't actually contacted the person until the time they choose to allow it. It's only "any time, any place" if you choose to sit there glued to that damned screen. Put the CrackBerry down and walk away. You'd be amazed how many people will never notice you're ignoring them.
    • You check your blackberry during dinner at home?
    • Ever heard of the "switch it off" option? I think even those blackberries have such a feature. Just like my mobile (it's off now). And my e-mail (closed at the moment). And on top of that: e-mail can wait. It can wait much better than a phone call.
      Every evening I receive e-mails, and actually I do answer a lot of them. It's part of my work. I don't complain, I'm the boss. BUt I'd much rather have my customers send me e-mail that I can reply when I have time (end of the evening, before going off to bed, che
  • by Loibisch ( 964797 ) on Friday December 14, 2007 @11:28AM (#21697520)
    I've heard people say "thank god I'm not eligible [meaning high enough in the food chain] to get one of those" over where I work. So I'd say people definitely fear the intrusion of work into privacy and I understand totally. There's got to be a time where you have to be able to say "I'm sorry, but I was out and couldn't check company mail".
    • by mccalli ( 323026 )
      There's got to be a time where you have to be able to say "I'm sorry, but I was out and couldn't check company mail".

      Indeed, there's got to be a time where you are able to "I was out and unavailable for company mail". Forget sorry and couldn't - my time is mine.

      I actually do some work voluntarily from home, but it's time I've arranged and not just random "hope you're available" time. And it remains my ambition in life to never own a blackberry.

    • by MBCook ( 132727 )
      Let me translate. That probably means one of three things.
      1. I'm afraid of responsibility
      2. I don't think I'd have enough strength to be able to control myself with that and not let work take over my personal life, or stand up for myself when work starts asking me to be on call all the time
      3. I wouldn't want my position to involve being expected to be on call all the time
      I see no problem with #3, but I think for most people that statement probably means #2.
    • by nine-times ( 778537 ) <> on Friday December 14, 2007 @12:24PM (#21698352) Homepage

      What I find funny about the Blackberry thing is that, in a couple places that I've worked, they were being used pretty much exclusively for middle-management. The lowly helpdesk techs supposedly weren't important enough to get one, in spite of the fact that it would be really useful for them to receive e-mail when they were away from their desks "in the field". Then a bunch of managers who were at their desks all day anyway had them. But then, oddly, the executive team didn't have Blackberries.

      I once asked one of the VPs about it, and he basically said, "We let the managers get them because it makes them feel important and they aren't that expensive. But I sure as hell don't want to be on-call 24 hours a day." I felt like I learned something right there. The trappings of power are usually most appreciated by those who don't really have any. Those guys who spend a lot of time trying to show you who's boss are specifically those who aren't "the boss". The people who are really in charge don't necessarily feel the need to prove it to you.

      • Sounds very much like what we said 10, 15 years or so ago when the GSM phones started to really boom. There are three groups of people:
        1. There were people who were not imporant enough to be reachable all the time, so they didn't have a mobile phone.
        2. Then there were the more important people, who thought it was a good idea to be reachable all the time, they had one.
        3. And those really important ones didn't have a mobile phone, because they were important enough to decide by themselves when they are rea
  • by JerryLove ( 1158461 ) on Friday December 14, 2007 @11:29AM (#21697524)
    I would think this rather obvious: using a black-berry to receive emails when you are out in the field during your business day is enabling remoteness, while using it to return emails at dinner is removing the work/home distinction. I don't generally see a black-berry as offering a distinct advantage over a cellphone with text messaging in the case of those "get everyone on the phone, the server is down" emergencies... and if you are doing routine emails during your off-hours then they are not off-hours.
  • Two-sided (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Billosaur ( 927319 ) * <`ten.enilnotpo' `ta' `rehtorgw'> on Friday December 14, 2007 @11:29AM (#21697526) Journal

    On the one hand, I enjoy the flexibility of having my laptop come home with me, so that if something happens and I can't get to my office, I can still work. On the other hand, I get obsessive with problems I can't solve, so there's the pitfall of going home, logging in, and continuing to work. It's up to the individual to control their use. Now, if your supervisor begins pressuring you to work more... that's a whole different ballgame, but still, you have to push back when work bleeds into your home life to the point that it interferes too much.

  • by Reality Master 201 ( 578873 ) on Friday December 14, 2007 @11:29AM (#21697528) Journal
    The consequence is that I also don't work that hard when I'm actually at work.

    It's easier for me to justify randomly screwing around on the internet or working on personal coding/whatever at work because I wind up checking email and working over weekends to get things done. I think it's fair. They steal some of my free time, I waste some of their paid time.
    • by ookabooka ( 731013 ) on Friday December 14, 2007 @11:36AM (#21697652)
      Hardly sounds like a long term solution though, eventually you'll just go to work and not do anything, only to come home and then start working. . .? In your case I think it's more important to keep work and pleasure separate rather than trying to keep them balanced. Otherwise you end up spending all your time "working" but accomplishing little.
      • by MBCook ( 132727 )

        So what? If I do my work, why should they care? If my job allows me*, I should be able to do this kind of thing. I'd jump on a problem if it came up. That's expected.

        * What I mean by "allows me" is that the job is setup in a way that this isn't a problem. As an accountant who has a big assignment that will take me a week, or a programmer who already has the scope and just need to do the coding, this should be fine. If you a help desk representative, a lawyer or accountant who needs to meet clients, or some

    • by weicco ( 645927 )

      If someone calls me outside office hours it's fine by me. If I'm not doing anything like sitting in the toilet or having quality time with my wife I'll answer and charge one hour salary for that 5 minute phone call.

    • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Friday December 14, 2007 @01:34PM (#21699324) Journal
      Careful. Time spent slacking off at work is more visible and obvious to your boss and coworkers than time spent working after hours. You may actually be putting in your fair share (or more) of time, yet it won't appear that way to a casual observer. Depending on your boss, that might reflect rather negatively on you.
  • saves the travel (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jeffreyMartin ( 1115859 ) on Friday December 14, 2007 @11:30AM (#21697548) Homepage
    I'd rather have the crackberry (or mobile phone, or notebook) available if I *need* to do something, than have to run to the office on a saturday because of one forgotten task or reply. And yes, you can turn it off!
  • by penfold69 ( 471774 ) on Friday December 14, 2007 @11:30AM (#21697550) Journal
    I have a blackberry 8800, which revolutionised how I work.

    I have several email addresses routed to it, which each have different notification tones. If I receive a Nagios alert to my "Oh Crap" email address, the notification is loud and insistent. If I receive personal mail, it's subtle. Business mail is also fairly quiet and subtle but different to personal mail.

    Outside of "working hours", I can choose to ignore it easily enough. Only if our monitoring system picks up something alert-worthy do I have to actually bother actioning something immediately.

    When I was first offered the blackberry, I made it clear to the MD that this would not intrude upon my personal life unnecessarily. If I *choose* to read my business emails outside of working hours, then all fine. I balance that with *choosing* to read my personal mail during work hours :)

  • Meh (Score:3, Interesting)

    by djasbestos ( 1035410 ) on Friday December 14, 2007 @11:31AM (#21697560)
    I have one, and I almost never get called ever since I stopped pushing software updates on Friday.

    Then again, you make me do work stuff at home, I'm gonna do more home stuff at work. Yay internet.
    • since I stopped pushing software updates on Friday.

      That's been our policy for years. No new releases/updates/pushes on Fridays. Period.
  • Qui bono (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hobo sapiens ( 893427 ) on Friday December 14, 2007 @11:37AM (#21697654) Journal
    From TFS: "senior executives claiming a BlackBerry can contribute to work/life balance by facilitating telecommuting and more flexible schedules. "

    More flexible for whom? Where I work, that seems to be a one way flexibility. Senior executives are making (SWAG alert) 3x - 10x what I am making. They have made the choice to have a large stake in how the company performs. While I have a stake, of course, it's just not as large or worth my personal/family life. It seems like despite being more accessible, people's work hours never get shorter. And that's what it's about in the end, isn't it? Getting more done in less time? But in rality, it just seems that it's about getting more done in more time. No good. I am glad I have no blackberry.
  • by mihalis ( 28146 ) on Friday December 14, 2007 @11:38AM (#21697672) Homepage

    To me the blackberry is a blessing, because it helps me find out about things sooner. If I didn't find out about some things on the blackberry, then I'd only find out about them when I next get to the office, except more time would have elapsed and the urgency would be higher. So for me a little bit of intrusiveness (urgent email when I'm on my way home) is more than offset by reducing the stress of getting to work and finding shit happened last night and I wasn't aware).

    However I do establish limits on the intrusiveness of the blackberry. Mine never buzzes for email and is switched off entirely from about mid-evening to around breakfast the next day. During that off period people can contact me on my cellphone if they really need me.

    If there isn't that time critical element to a persons responsibilities then I can imagine it being not worth it.

  • My take on all this is, I like to be well connected but hard to reach.

    Blackberries I don't find appealing, because they have too many triggers to allow people to get to you right then - from email to paging to phone. It's really the email that's the worst, Blackberry users seem to stop whatever they are doing right that second to read and answer an email.

    People need to be willing to let the mail queue at least a little bit... it would be nice to have a device have some kind of setting to only allow a notic
  • by schnikies79 ( 788746 ) on Friday December 14, 2007 @11:39AM (#21697684)
    I'm not when I'm not.

    Seriously people, if you don't want to be bothered at home, make it clear. My company had no problem with that. Turn off the company phone/blackberry/whatever or at least stand your ground. Granted I don't work in IT so I don't know what common policies are like=, but I am on call, during certain hours. If they call outside of those hours, they will get a polite no (they have never tried).
  • Do the executives wnat them for the reasons stated, or do they want them as a status symbol when they're on the golf course?
    • Do the executives wnat them for the reasons stated, or do they want them as a status symbol when they're on the golf course?

      That's half of it. The other half does appear to be the ability to keep their tentacles around their employees, keeping them available at all times.

  • I wonder how many of the carckberry addicts got that way from gradually increasing service expectations, not managerial interdicts?
    The problem in my group isn't so much that my boss wants everyone to be accessible 24/7, its that my co-workers try to out-do each other in the customer service area. Coincidentally, the people who keep the most lusers happy usually get the best raises because they have the lowest number of complaints. I guess that some people would rather have a juicy raise than a good night's
  • by bskin ( 35954 ) <bentomb@g[ ] ['mai' in gap]> on Friday December 14, 2007 @11:58AM (#21697902)
    To everyone saying they've told work when they'll be available on their Blackberry...

    It must be nice to be able to set the terms on which you'll work for the company. You must have a lot of leverage there. A lot of us are not so lucky.
    • by geekoid ( 135745 )
      Find a better job.

      Look, do you want money? Time? early retirement?

      Decide and focus on it. I like my time off. I could make 25% more money tomorrow if I wanted to. But my work week will shoot to 60+ hours a week, plus traveling. Right now I work 4 10s and have three day weekends every weekend. Funny thing is I get as much, if not more work done working this schedule. With everybody working 40 they want to get work done and go home. I almost never see a person come up to a cube to 'Just Chat'. Sure, they'll
    • You do too, just go out and get another job. You'll be a lot happier that you did. I know I've been happier every time I switched jobs.

  • My workstation at work is so far and beyond anything that i have at home that replicating what i can do at my desk at home is impossible. I do mainly graphic design work, so a really big workspace is pretty important. Sure, my little tiny laptop can run gimp and scribus just fine, but it is just really really ineffective for getting any actual work done. Usually if I want/need to get work done (I really enjoy my job), I will just drive into work. Security is here 24/7...and sometimes the best work gets
  • by JBMcB ( 73720 )
    As far as I know, all the communications devices I own have an off switch. I use them frequently.
  • I don't have a Blackberry but I was finally given access to our corporate VPN ... which is the greatest thing ever as far as I'm concerned. It means I can leave the office, relax in different surroundings (the house or the coffee-shop) and hack away in a change of scenery. Better yet, if something strikes me at ten p.m. I can log in instead of trying to hold onto an idea until the morning. I find, however, that when I leave work I'm very conscious of having spent my eight hours sitting in front of a scree
    • by ps236 ( 965675 )
      The difference between being allowed VPN access and having something like a Blackberry is that you have to decide to go to your PC and log on to the VPN and do something. Whereas, with the Blackberry it shouts at you for attention (unless you turn it off)

      IMHO a Blackberry is 'worse' than text messaging on a phone because it's often easier to send an email than a text message. Also, everyone knows that a text message arrives immediately. Some people may not realise that an email will get through to the Black
  • by Churla ( 936633 ) on Friday December 14, 2007 @12:02PM (#21697976)
    My company has cel phone (not blueberries) on all the people in my group. We're the top end of problem solvers in the support side of the organization. They also encouraged us to work from home one day a week to help make up for the occasional weekend day or late night we were pulling.

    This ended when a director level person walked through our area one day and didn't see enough butts in seats for their liking. Now they wonder why they have so much trouble getting people to answer the cel phones and work those long/extra hours from home.
  • There are a couple of reasons why its very beneficial to me having a smartphone (let's call it what they are). I also have my office phone forwarded to my cell which means my clients can reach me ALL day. No voice mail, no missed calls. Happy interactions and accidents all day. Here's why:

    1. If I come in late, I've already been responding to my emails and early morning calls on the bus 30 minutes prior. Tick tock - I'm getting paid for my time regardless where I am. +1 karma bonus

    2. If a client calls
    • The difference is you have clients. You are your own boss. But if you are a wage slave where the rewards for your good performance are much more indirect (if there are any), it's a huge intrusion into your life. Most people would rather stop thinking about work when they clock out and I don't blame them one bit. Try to put yourself in their shoes.
    • Just out of curiosity, do you expect the same unusual level of commitment from your staff? If you do, do you pay them substantially more than the going rate? Oh, and I hope if you do text in the meeting you mention it - "Let me check, I'll drop a message to one of my guys.". If you just went ahead and did it the impression I'd be left with is no one of someone who is connected with their happenings, but of someone who is rude and disinterested.
  • by ChromaticDragon ( 1034458 ) on Friday December 14, 2007 @12:06PM (#21698052)

    Did anyone notice the stark contrast between the view of the Executives and the workabees?

    The Executives believe that the Blackberries can facilitate telecommuting and a balance between life and work. The grunts fear this is just a way to ensure longer workdays.

    Why do you think that might be?

    Could it be that relative to the workers, the execs don't really have that much work to balance with their life?

    I think there is at least one other very important aspect here relative to telecommuting. Telecommuting really only works when there are a few key ingredients:

    • Trust. The manager needs to trust the worker.
    • A way to measure work. I find the managers the most comfortable with telecommuting, flex-time, etc., were those in situations where counting widgets was easy. If there is no clear way to measure output, this becomes a bit more of a challenge.
    • Good management, including proper escalation. My current management has clearly expressed that they expect routine escalation since we're understaffed. We're all comfortable about it since it then becomes the manager's job to prioritize. A bad manager simply attempts to appease everyone and twist the arms of employees to get them to do everything despite burnout.
    If you are in a situation where the environment isn't already very comfortable with flex-time, telecommuting, etc., picking up a device which may lead others to expect immediate responses to email at all hours of the day may be a rather horrible idea.
  • There are times I honestly wish work would call me when I'm off duty to ask about things. At least once a week something happens where people aren't sure of what to do in a given situation so they just make something up and I'm left to clean up the mess the next day. Would it be worth the five minutes of personal time to save that hour of work time? Usually. The only downside I see is that if I didn't spend most of my days putting out fires I end up not having a whole lot to do.
  • They are messengers. Messengers are not as intrusive as a phone call. A phone call has to be answered (optimally) while an instant message can be answered with a delay.

    But then again, my feng shui is broken anyway, my office is my living room, and I have 6 computers on all the time - well since I am a treehugger they hybernate/powersave themselves as much as possible.

    I still prefer IM as I can simply ignore them, and my asterisk server goes into "we are closed this time" mode for business calls after 7pm,
  • I'm a systems administrator. I have had a Blackberry for several years but only recently started checking it constantly.

    In my opinion, it has been dangerous to my health. Previously, when a server would have an issue (major or minor) I wouldn't really address it until users started complaining. Sometimes I'd get an email notification, sometimes I wouldn't -- regardless, repair wouldn't begin until 9 AM the next day.

    Some people may view that as bad administration (and it is, to a degree), but there was a
  • It means that I don't have to be in the office to take care of matters, which means more at-home time for me. As far as constantly checking my e-mail, I generally don't. Even if I do, that doesn't mean I have to respond. I also like knowing what to expect before I arrive at work. Bottom line, I'd rather be able to satisfy an overly demanding boss from home, rather than spending my evenings and Saturdays in the cube.
  • I find it rather hilarious how many mechanisms we have for communication these days.

    But what is very interesting is the inconsistency of it all.

    I use the following means to communicate to my peers at work:

    1. Internet Messaging
    2. Work Telephone Number
    3. Mobile Telephone Number
    4. Email
    5. Home Telephone Number
    6. Pager

    Due to cost reduction efforts, many workers no longer have work cell phones nor pagers. But some do. Furthermore, many of us permit others to call us on our personal mobile phones bu

  • Union, Yes! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Animats ( 122034 ) on Friday December 14, 2007 @12:31PM (#21698440) Homepage

    Here's how it's done in a union shop. [] This is an Animation Guild contract.

    Time worked on the employee's sixth (6th) workday of the workweek shall be paid at one and one-half (1 1/2) times the hourly rate provided herein for such employee's classification. Time worked on the employee's seventh (7th) workday of the workweek shall be paid at two (2) times the hourly rate provided herein for such employee's classification.

    Minimum call for the sixth (6th) and seventh (7th) days shall be four (4) hours. In the event the actual time worked by such employee exceeds the four (4) hour minimum, s/he shall be paid for all time actually worked in 1/10th -hour increments.

    All time worked in excess of fourteen (14) consecutive hours (including meal periods) from the time of reporting to work shall be Golden Hours and shall be paid at two (2) times the applicable hourly rate provided herein for such employee's classification.

    Now that's the way it's supposed to work. There may be crunches when hours are long, but pay goes up, which discourages employers from overdoing it.

    Note the "minimum call" provision. Calling someone at home to do work outside of normal hours triggers that, and costs the employer at least 4 hours pay. Again, emergencies are provided for, but they're billable, so employers don't overdo it.

  • I'll do email. I'll take phone calls (but often I will let the machine filter the call, first).

    I refuse to do IM. I feel too tethered with that. I like the store/forward idea of email. get an email, reply to it, you are done. IM is too chatty and requires you to BE there at the time. tethering. I hate it. too many people just accept, it though - and that's scary.

    I have a cell phone for emergency use, that I leave in the car. I also don't like having a phone with me. I don't want to live where so m
  • in all things, moderation. I turn my phone (HTC Hermes) off when I go to sleep, but mostly just because the incessant GSM buzz on my clock radio drives the wife and I nuts. I have to say, when I finally got email on my phone (push email, that shows up all the time), it made things SO MUCH BETTER for me. Primarily because now I can be connected and involved in what's going on without having to warm a chair at work (or in my home office), or even having to pull out my laptop. I can present the appearance of a
  • ...then I have a bridge I want to sell you.
  • Is constant accessibility freeing or just another chain around your neck?

    It's not about access, it's about choice. If you have the freedom to say "no", to turn it off, to refuse to carry it, you're going to be fine with it. If you don't, you're not.

    It's likely one of those areas like harrassment or discrimination, where people have different points of view not because they think in a fundamentally different way but because their personal experience is different. Such personal variation masks a lo

  • If you have a choice in the first place of not having a smartphone at all, or having one, then you should have a more full range of choice, and be able to use that to your best advantage professionally, but at the same time having the discipline or backbone (whichever is applicable to the person) to shut it down/ignore it as if you didn't have it at all when appropriate.

    I think some people get too wrapped up in their work and absolutely need to know how to cut out and enjoy the rest of their lives. But eve
  • I don't see what the problem is.

    If I can process PERSONAL email and phone calls while I'm at the office, I can be an agent for my employer outside of my normal work hours.

    As long as boundries and expectations are healthy, and clear - I don't see the problem with this.
  • I notice that nearly every post has the attitude about work that "you're on when you're on, and you're off when you're off." But, that's a fairly one-sided view of things. Personally, my work is my life. I grew up programming, it was my hobby, and now it's my job. But, it's still my hobby. So, when I hear something has gone wrong, hours after my usual shift is over, I am more than happy to get an email on my phone, and decide if it needs immediate attention.

    Usually it doesn't. Frequently I can send a
  • A couple things (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wilhelm ( 5091 ) on Friday December 14, 2007 @01:09PM (#21699002) Homepage
    Chief executives think that it enhances flexibility for everybody. In my experience, those executives spend more time not in the office than basically everybody else - they're the king, and they can do whatever strikes their fancy. They give presentations to big clients, or go to see about buying other companies, or even just go golfing. Sure, it enhances their flexibility; they can still get their mails when they're (inevitably) elsewhere. For the rest of the suckers, they've gotta be in the office 8 hours a day anyway. So how does that enhance flexibility, when the people are already there?

    Second, on a more personal note, when I'm out of the office, I'm not working. Period. I'm not being paid hourly, and I don't feel the need to give away freebies. I don't have to go on-call at my current job, and unless I get scheduled for a downtime window, my work will still be there the next morning when I get back to the office. A few years ago, I realized that work is not everything. The paycheck is important, but there's much more to life than doing work. I have a lot of hobbies which I like doing infinitely more than working, and they occupy my time and interest just fine, thanks. I like visiting friends and traveling to new places, and I don't want to be interrupted while I'm doing either. If my boss and/or company require the level of fealty that a lot of companies seem to require these days, I'm working at the wrong place.

    Back when I was going on-call, I would do my on-call duties when it was my turn, and when it wasn't, I was not very nice about calls I received. I never slept well when I was on-call. I had my Christmas morning of opening gifts with my family interrupted by the on-call phone ringing one year. I used to carry a blackberry, and never read emails on it. The volume of what I got was so high, it quickly (like over the course of the first day or two I had it) turned into the boy-who-cried-wolf device; 99.9%+ of the mails didn't need a response, and the rest could have simply been replaced by an SMS or a phone call of "hey, we need help".
  • by fizzer82 ( 1201947 ) on Friday December 14, 2007 @01:17PM (#21699090)

    I think for many, the problem is that when you first get it, you create a precedence. 2 years ago I got my first crackberry. It was purely for off-hours support only when I was on call.

    First couple weeks I'm thinking, oh hey fun, I can send work emails while bored on the crapper on a Thursday evening. People see the emails, and think I'm "working" all the time. Of course the email could've waited until Friday morning. But after you do that a few times, people are expecting responses.

    Learned my lesson, got a smartphone for off-hours stuff at my current employer, but I refuse to answer emails unless I'm scheduled on call for production support. If its important enough, and I'm not on call, they'll actually just call me. Which, of course, I let go to voicemail and only do anything if its a real emergency ;)
  • by Alicat1194 ( 970019 ) on Friday December 14, 2007 @01:18PM (#21699108)
    Surely it's more of a personality thing - either you're going to obsessively check your email, or you aren't.

    Admittedly, it could be a problem if management is pushing you to be on call without being 'on call', but there are ways around that too, depending on how devious you want to be (though I'm guessing you can only use the old 'my battery died' excuse a few times before they'll start to cotton on ;) ).

  • by natoochtoniket ( 763630 ) on Friday December 14, 2007 @02:46PM (#21700358)

    I am the original techie (architect/engineer/developer/programmer/administrator/etc) in the company. Over 20+ years, the business has grown and gone public, and my systems have become the mission-critical part of the business. There really are some problems for which I am the only person in the world who knows the systems well enough to solve them. And, some of those problems are extremely expensive (per-minute) until they are solved. They pay me well enough that I don't mind a few extra hours occasionally, and a lot of extra hours very occasionally.

    A typical "emergency" ends up being most of a night to put the systems back online and stable, followed by a few days of follow up to fix the underlying issue, communicate what happened, and to coordinate who is going to do what to make the fix permanent. We had a bad month last September -- I ended up working 100+ hours/week for several weeks straight. That doesn't happen very often.

    To balance, I feel free to take some under-time, whenever I need it, or I judge it to be appropriate. My usual office schedule is probably about 35 hours a week, and much of that time is spent "walking around" (mentoring, tutoring, and a lot of listening).

    A few times over the years, a "senior management" type has fussed at me about my hours or schedules. None of those people work here any more. It's amazing how that happens. Some people think they can just issue orders. Others understand that they need to cooperate with the people who can actually make things happen. It doesn't take long to see the difference.

    The wise lieutenant understands that the senior sergeants actually run the army, do what they recommend, and don't piss them off. The life expectancy of a foolish lieutenant on the battleground is just a few days.

"Everyone's head is a cheap movie show." -- Jeff G. Bone