Report: American employees are less willing to unplug from work

Is technology hold back a staff member's chance to a strong work-life balance?

Is technology hold back a staff member's chance to a strong work-life balance?

Technology affects many aspects of our day-to-day activities, but the number of devices supplementing its use is reaching an overwhelming point. Nowadays, the average person can continue to complete work-related projects from tablets and smartphones. In the not-too-distant future smart glasses and watches will be able to streamline some of these processes. 

It is becoming increasingly clear that workers need to let go of these devices and enjoy their time away from work, but what if the cause of the problem isn't the employee, but actually the supervisor? Such was the case for data center manager Michael Bodnar from Ashland, Massachusetts.

"I wouldn't know if he was starting his work day wicked early, or if he hadn't gone to sleep yet — or if he never slept," Bodnar said. "He used it to strategic advantage. "He would draw you into something in the middle of the night. He'd plant a seed of doubt."

Staying late at the office used to be the norm, but with cloud-based computing, HR software and other business technology, employees and supervisors have the option to continue working outside business hours. In fact, it is beginning to impact staff members' vacation time, according to a survey from Adecco Staffing.

This growing need to remain connected with the office may become problematic as more workers are taking on more tasks than they are able to do in a given work week. Instead of handing off tasks to staffers during their off week, workers are choosing to keep up with their load — about 37 percent of respondents to Adecco said that they did work during vacation time.

"It could constitute overtime," Kabrina Krebel Chang, assistant professor of business law at Boston University School of Management, explained to the Globe. "and when the line between work and not work is blurred, it raises all sorts of liability issues."

The problem with this shift is that some Millennial workers actually enjoy the flexibility of working outside business hours. To offset time spent outside of the office Monday through Friday, some will ask their supervisor for a flexible work agreement, and record it in the HR software system. While they see this a perk, others consider it a strain on the work-life balance.

France for example, decided to establish ground rules on when businesses should spend work-related emails. Employers must adhere to a 11-hour email-free window, as well as increase accommodations for employees who have to work with others in different time zones.