As experienced by many of us in today’s fast paced, highly connected and technology-driven business environment, many challenges surface for the average knowledge worker on how to cope with time management demands in our current information age. The sense of one’s burden, strain on time and individual availability manifests itself as customer service level expectations (that sometimes present themselves as ‘demands’), or internal organisational management requirements and occasionally, simply being a team player where we are expected to be highly accessible and available to collaborate, interact and drive business results.
As client-centric services dependent on an organisation’s ability to deliver (often across virtual teams) increase in both scope and importance, while in some cases spanning varying time zones, so does the criticality of ensuring seamless operational capabilities across all support resources. This creates an ‘always-on’ condition in our human resource area that is driving a demand for today’s new world of work employee to establish not only a framework for work-life balance but rather, institute a mode of operation that could be considered work-life assimilation (work/life integration). We are charged with taking new ideas and proven approaches and putting them to work in new ways, using technology to accelerate our ability to adapt to our new world of work conditions.
As the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to gain more traction in our daily lives, there is a heightened need to ensure employees have secure access to information; by anyone, from anywhere, at any time – even outside of ‘standard’ working hours. This, of course, has driven the rise and importance of secure mobile access to applications, print, infrastructure and business process resources (workflows) that permit business to be conducted potentially at any hour of the day. There are several technology solutions layered in this mobile construct such as social platforms, ‘app’ productivity tools, and more often today, shared services applications available on the cloud – designed to support greater efficiency and return on our human capital and maximise the precious time we have to engage in effective business communications. After all, ask a colleague how things are going, and their reply will have some degree of reference to the volumes of business, communications and data throughput they are managing creating this real sense of ‘being busy’ and an inability to ‘disconnect’.
The notion of disconnecting is a valiant one however. For most professionals, our anxiety levels and concerns about staying on top of things trumps our will to release the ‘tether’. There are time management technologies and learning opportunities available in the market that expand on personal development skills. I would suggest within the technology spectrum specifically, one considers looking at business process and mobile technology solutions that can help you achieve a work-life operating state that you can be comfortable with. A great starting point may be to entertain solutions or software that deliver collaboration and productivity capabilities; some of which are delivered securely as a service through a slick mobile app.
Ultimately, technology is simply a tool to help navigate the management of work-life balance, by taking advantage of the fact that all devices (and people behind them) are, in fact, connected to each other over the internet. Ricoh understands that we need to easily switch between consumer and office worker functions in our daily activities. The Infinite Network of people connected to information can be managed and achieved through effective use of technology that supports work-life integration vs. an attempt to balance and splitting time.
There are technologies, professional development and management guidance available in the marketplace to help all of us, regardless of our roles or titles, to assist in dealing with the challenges faced in today’s modern workplace