Business Mobility and the Work/Life Balance Paradox (or Contradiction)

The following is an extract from this report: Next-Generation Knowledge Workers – Accelerating the Disruption in Business Mobility by Cisco:
Jimmy does BlackBerry

The revolution in business mobility is ongoing and constantly changing, and we are in the middle of what we see as a four-stage process (“Forming,” “Storming,” “Norming,” and “Performing”). Each phase has been driven forward by changes in “DNA,” all of which are driving us toward the next phase.

An indication of business mobility’s importance in the current “Storming” phase can be seen in the following: 40 percent of our respondents believe that without their devices, they could not function more than one hour without their jobs being impacted. And approximately 50 percent of mobile-enabled workers have seen productivity gains in the past two years.

As work responsibilities become ever more demanding and time consuming, many people fear an encroachment on their home lives and free time. Looking ahead, our survey respondents see mobile technology becoming increasingly important as they continue the everyday battle to achieve work/life harmony. More than 50 percent see mobile devices as a way to improve their work/life balance.

As for increased freedom and mobility, more than 30 percent of our respondents currently work from home regularly. Another 30 percent expect to be working more from home in the future.

A key element in the juggling of work and life is time. More than 30 percent of our respondents believe that they have been working longer hours; yet more than 40 percent feel they have more control over how, when, and where they work.

I’m sure that these results are what people told Cisco, but what an intriguing set of paradoxical, or even contradictory, views.

Paradox: A seemingly absurd or self-contradictory statement or proposition that when investigated or explained may prove to be well founded or true.

Contradiction: A combination of statements, ideas, or features of a situation that are opposed to one another.

Paradox or contradiction? Mobile business technology enables improvements in productivity, but has facilitated a culture that is dependent upon immediate responses effectively tethering us to our mobile devices. But reactionary working is rarely productive working. Other people propose scheduled periods of disconnection in order to find a place to ‘reset the soul’.

Paradox or contradiction? Mobile business technology has improved our work/life balance, but has facilitated longer working hours from people who believe that they have more control over how, when and where they work. Long working hours are linked to depression, which can’t be good for anyone’s work/life balance, and how real is that control anyway? People regularly speak of manager mis-trust and feeling like they are ‘out of sight – out of mind’. Yet telecommuting is consistently ranked high on people’s list of job requirements with some preferring it over salary.

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