Taking care of the always-on workforce

“I love where our IT consumerization initiative is taking us, the autonomy and flexibility we can afford our employees is amazing, especially for our mobile workforce who feel much better connected and say they waste less time”

A fairly typical conversation about the benefits of IT consumerization you might think, and indeed it had been up to that point. I was at the Service Desk and IT Show in London in April and got chatting to a VP of IT from a large technology company with a major presence in the UK.images.jpeg.jpg

We chatted about their experiences with BYOD, self-service and their transition to being 80% cloud based in terms of corporate applications. Advanced? perhaps – but not exceptional these days by any means. Then he said…

“I asked my team to look at developing guidelines for connecting to our systems outside working hours. We’re keen to make sure people don’t overdo it and stress themselves out.”

I must have done a pretty poor job at masking my surprise, because he quickly followed up with “yeah, most people react like that”

“We’re thinking about building a course too, to help people put technology and connectivity in perspective”

Managing our relationship to technology

It was the first time I could recall human factors playing a role in end-user education – outside of the more usual ethical and legal policies and the ergonomics of sitting correctly and adjusting the height of my monitor.

pixel_heart_by_smarticles101-d2y45vs.jpgThis was guidance, in essence, about how to be in relation to the technology and the opportunity that technology presented to be connected everywhere, right around the clock.

“The secret, we think, is to have a healthy outlook on the technology and make sure that when people do use it outside of normal working patterns, that they’re looking carefully at why they’re doing it and how it’s making them feel”

This was progressive thinking, although not without precedent. This is a pretty hot area in many tech circles right now, with a few key influencers advocating a more considered and mindful approach to the consumption of technology and the relentless stream of information.

In a recent episode of Mindful Cyborgs – a show that Chris Dancy co-presents with WIRED’s Klint Finley – there was a great discussion with Nathan Jurgenson about some of the social implications of increased connectivity.

Is always-on more stressful or less stressful?

For many, the flexibility and autonomy afforded by a generous and forward thinking consumerization approach has transformed their working lives, with any additional potential stress easily mitigated by the convenience. I’d definitely include myself in that category.

I’ve spoken to plenty of people who feel more stressed by not being connected, nervous about what they’re missing, or the perceived build up Unknown.jpeg.jpgof work while they were off the grid and unable to respond. By the way, this viewpoint probably isn’t healthy either.

But there are, of course, those who find the degree of connectivity we now have highly stressful. In many cases the real anxiety arises from a perceived expectation (real or imagined) that they should always be available and up to speed.

Over to you…

What do you think? Does greater connectivity and flexibility work for you? Or do you savor every second away from your devices? Perhaps you’ve struck a balance and have some great advice to share?

Comments below – or tweets to @messagemonger

Cheers!

Chris

These postings are my own and do not necessarily represent BMC's position, strategies, or opinion.

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Chris Rixon

Chris Rixon

Chris has worked in IT Operations Management technology since 1990, in roles spanning: IT helpdesk, software engineering, consulting, architecture, sales engineering and marketing. Chris joined the Remedy Corporation in 2000 and came to BMC during the acquisition in late 2002.