Work/life balance vs work/Blackberry balance

Mar 10 2006 by Nic Paton Print This Article

Employers are being urged to do more to tackle the "Blackberrying" of the workplace, where workers find mobile technology is resulting in them being on-call and available 24-hours a day, seven days a week.

The Orange Future Enterprise Coalition Ė a collection of government, academic and industry bodies Ė has said bosses need to take greater care to encourage staff mentally to "switch off" once the working day is done.

It has called for research to be carried out to assess the impact of mobile data technology within the workplace Ė including the ubiquitous Blackberry Ė and what the growth of mobile technology is doing in relation to work-life balance.

Business owners had a vital role in proactively encouraging staff to "switch off" outside the office, said mobile phone firm Orange, which founded the coalition.

"Mobile data technologies are a force for good, but they can mean a trade-off between the freedom to work outside the office and the extension of work outside office hours," said Alastair MacLeod, vice president of Orange Business Solutions.

"Mobile technology gives employees more control over their lives, but employers must encourage staff to 'switch off'," he added.

Around half of employers felt their workers were already sufficiently mobile, while 41 per cent did not provide any form of mobile device to their employees, said the coalition.

But it predicted this would change over time, with employers and staff fighting a battle over "digital rights", with bosses claiming ownership of all information exchanged via company-owned mobile devices and staffing demand privacy when using mobile devices in their personal time.