Is Communications Technology Making It Difficult to Achieve Work-Life Balance?

By West Midlands Police from West Midlands, United Kingdom [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By West Midlands Police from West Midlands, United Kingdom [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Technology is widely believed to be very useful to human existence but it appears there are people who find it as a hindrance to achieving work-life balance. Communications technology, in particular, is considered by a number of employees or professionals as a hurdle.

The Survey

A survey conducted by Fastnet Recruitment found that almost 75% of the Irish workforce have the perception that technology bears a negative effect in their ability to balance their work and personal lives. Around 8 out of 10 employers, on the other hand, share the same sentiment. The research data obtained showed that 81% of the employers surveyed had the admission that it has become difficult to completely get away from work matters when spending time with their families because of the existence of modern communications technology.

The survey had a sample size of 450 employees. Sixty percent of this survey population had regular access to emails outside of their office hours while more than half admitted to accessing their emails even when they were on their annual leave. Moreover, the survey found that approximately 6 for every 10 employers had the expectation that their staff would be checking their emails beyond working hours while around 8 out of ten of them did not expect their employees to be checking their emails (for work-related matters) as they go on their annual leave.

By Intel Free Press [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Intel Free Press [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Survey Interpretations

According to Niamh O’Driscoll, the survey results show people’s lack of efficiency in managing their leisure and work times. It is an indication of inability on the part of both employees and employers in creating a clear distinction between work and personal or family matters. O’Driscoll adds that the “survey shows that the increasing use of smartphones means that people are constantly connected, whether in or out of the office and indeed outside office hours.” She thinks that “this 24/7 accessibility means that many of us feel obliged to respond to emails and calls outside of work hours.”

This is not really surprising, though. The way smartphones and other web-connected mobile device enables continuous connection to the Internet is still relatively new for people, the working population in particular. It’s comparable to the mass availability of telephones. Because of easy access, the use of long-distance communications technology is easily abused. This easy access makes workaholic people unable to resist dealing with work-related concerns even when it’s out of schedule. On the other hand, this easy access to the technology, easily draws some to ditching work to attend to personal or leisure matters.

It is interesting to take note that France has come up with a solution to this problem by requiring “disconnection of communication tools” for contract workers in the hi-tech and consulting industries. This solution, however, does not appear to be that appealing to the Irish population as Fastnet found that Irish employers and employees were not amenable to such an option. More than half of the employers and over three quarters of the employees surveyed expressed objection to adopting similar restrictions.

Recommendations in Making Work-Life Balance Work

Imposing forced disconnection is arguably drastic or an overkill. There are many ways to do a work-life balancing act. Some of them are as follows:

  • Using Time Management / Scheduling / Personal Organization Apps – There are many apps that can be added to smartphones to help create reminders on properly distinguishing work and personal life obligations. Of course, they can’t be effective for everyone but they work to some extent. Having them is certainly better than having none.
  • Setting Clear Policies in the Workplace – Employers can play a significant role in making sure that employees stick to what is just. Office or work-related policies should be clearly set. Incentives can be given to those who finish their tasks within the allotted time. Separate smartphones may also be issued by companies to be used exclusively for work matters.
  • Stripping Down Some of Your Device’s “Distracting” Functions – A post on Lifehacker shares how disabling some of the iPhone’s functions can lead to a distraction-free life. It’s worth trying. Of course, something similar can be done to Android, Windows, and other smartphones. Sometimes, too much of technology’s conveniences makes life perplexing and unproductive. It may help getting rid of the features that easily tempt you in doing things you shouldn’t be doing.
Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG /

Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG /

Technology should never be viewed as an adversary. It exists to be useful. It only becomes undesirable with misuse. There’s always a benefit to be derived in every technological advancement. It’s up to the user to wisely make use of what technology has to offer.