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Blackberry Owners Chained to Work

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the jacob-marley-in-a-suit dept.

Businesses 210

seriouslywtf writes "New survey data suggests that Americans are split over whether Blackberrys are chaining them to work. While people who own Blackberries feel 'more productive', those with Blackberrys are more likely to work longer hours and feel like they have less personal time than those without. A Director of Marketing Strategies who owns a Blackberry pointed out that many employees feel obligated by employers who have handed out the devices. 'While being always on in a social context is a natural for young people, many of those in the 25-54 age group with families and corporate jobs are struggling with work-life blending. There is a need for the mainstream workplace culture to offer ways to counterbalance.'" Is the constantly connected, often mobile nature of the modern workplace a good thing, or not?

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Geez... are people really that malleable? (5, Interesting)

winkydink (650484) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030762)

I have a blackberry. I do not have any audio/vibro "you have mail" announcement enabled (nor do I on my desktop computer's email app). When I get home at the end of the day, guess what? I stop looking at it! Wow! What a concept, huh? But wait, what if it's really urgent? Well, then the blackberry makes a ringing noise and I talk to the person on the other end. Translated: If they really want to get hold of me RIGHT THIS VERY MINUTE, then they'll call when I don't answer their email.

Re:Geez... are people really that malleable? (5, Insightful)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031036)

"When I get home at the end of the day, guess what? I stop looking at it! Wow! What a concept, huh? "

Exactly...I leave my work behind the second that door hits me on the ass. Granted...these days I'm not doing any work where I'm on call....I like development work more...no one gets quite as pissed if you blow something up like they do if you do it to a prod. payroll box.

:-)

I dunno...some people seem to let their jobs 'define' them. Don't get me wrong, while I'm fortunate to work and earn a healthy living doing things that interest me...it is only, a job. And a job is nothing more to me than a means to earn money to buy and do things that please me, and allow me to take time off to enjoy them.

I hate to keep preaching it...but one way to cut that 'my company owns me and can call me 24/7'...is to get away from being a direct, salaried employee. I love contracting....my motto is "I never work for free".

If they have to PAY you for ever single hour you work...they will think twice on interfering with your free time...

Don't get me wrong, if there is the need for the 12th hour effort, and 110% to get something working for whatever reason...I'm there for the duration...but, I WILL get paid for that time and effort.

But really...I've never understood those that let themselves get so tied to a job. When you leave the job...it is YOUR time...enjoy it and leave them alone until they are paying you for it....

When I leave for the day, or take a vacation, I can guarantee I give not a single thought to work...not on MY time.

Contracting, eh? I can top that. (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18031358)

I work for the state. They pay me even when I'm NOT working. Like now, for instance. ;-)

Re:Geez... are people really that malleable? (4, Interesting)

Vengeance_au (318990) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031132)

That is the important differentiation - ensuring people with a critical need to contact you call rather than email. Unfortunately there is a prevailing assumption that if someone is packing a blackberry, an email = an instant notification and they are aware. As soon as you break that preconception, the device becomes a truly useful piece of kit - being called with a critical issue, and the person being able to say "I've just sent you an email with the details" makes life significantly easier.

At a previous job, I had a pro-forma email I'd send out about every 6 months to remind people of the paths of communication, their optimal uses and expected responsiveness. The general gist was email --> IM --> text message --> call --> in person. If you need someone but its not important, start at the left. If it is critical, start at the right. Follow up with slower technologies to keep record of important points or clarify details once engaged. And use your judgement to escalate - the excuse "i IM'ed you about the server room being on fire" doesn't hold water!

Re:Geez... are people really that malleable? (1)

oni (41625) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031766)

I do not have any audio/vibro "you have mail" announcement enabled (nor do I on my desktop computer's email app).

same here, and I find that I'm a lot more productive at work now. I put on some music and I think about what I'm coding. When I need a break, I flip over to my email (or check a website like slashdot) but I do it on my terms. If my boss emails me, then I get a popup. At home, I have an ambient orb with a serial interface and a script that makes it flash red if she emails me. So otherwise, I don't have to worry that there might be an email out there that I haven't seen.

It's not that hard (in my job and life) to manage stress.

Re:Geez... are people really that malleable? (1)

SilentChris (452960) | more than 7 years ago | (#18033052)

I have a blackberry. I do not have any audio/vibro "you have mail" announcement enabled (nor do I on my desktop computer's email app). When I get home at the end of the day, guess what? I stop looking at it! Wow! What a concept, huh? But wait, what if it's really urgent? Well, then the blackberry makes a ringing noise and I talk to the person on the other end. Translated: If they really want to get hold of me RIGHT THIS VERY MINUTE, then they'll call when I don't answer their email.

You're obviously not a sysadmin.

I have all my systems email me if something goes wrong. ...Which means, if I don't get the email, things just get worse and worse and someone finally calls me and tells me the users are irate. (Or worse, the system degrades to the point that it'll take me 2x or 3x as long to bring it back up then if I had gotten the email in the first place). ...Which means, if I don't monitor these emails, users can't get their work done. Following this, the boss gets pissed. ...Which means, if I don't check my Blackberry, my boss could fire me.

We're given these things under the assumption that we'll use them. While I agree that the situation has gone too far -- and I'd very much like to stick my Blackberry in a potato, and launch said potato out of some PVC pipes -- that's not how things work today. I don't have my servers call me when there's a problem (how irritating would that be, getting ringed every so often because some log was full?) The altnerative is to suffer the pain of the little blinking light.

Re:Geez... are people really that malleable? (2, Interesting)

winkydink (650484) | more than 7 years ago | (#18033182)

Actually, I began my career as a sysadmin. While I'm not a name in sysadmin, my name is one that most senior sysadmins would recognize. I've published multiple, peer-reviewed papers on topics related to systems administration.

If you are getting alert notification mail from the systems you administer on a regular basis, you might wish to consider another career because you're not doing a good job as a sysadmin. And I am saying that from both the vantage point of having been one as well as having managed 100+ both directly and indirectly.

So, now that we've established that alert notifications from your systems are a pretty rare event, I leave it as an exercise to the reader to craft a procmail script such that your blackberry only alerts you to these specific incoming alert messages.

being always connected to work is terrible (4, Insightful)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030800)

Because for some reason bosses think they have a right to your leisure time, and there are enough weak-willed employees giving in to them already to make you look bad if you don't answer the damn blackberry when you're not at work.

Re:being always connected to work is terrible (1)

TheMeuge (645043) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030916)

It's terrible, but that's exactly what any jobs that matter and pay well are turning into. For doctors, lawyers, research scientists, as well as many programmers, finance professionals, and others, working 60-80 hours per week is not an indication of dedication to work, but a necessity.

Are phones any different? (2, Insightful)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031512)

Does a boss really expect you to answer a blackberry any more than the phone if the boss has your home/personal cell number? I don't see how the blackberry changes anything really.

Perhaps this is not so much the blackberry per se, but rather a demographics thing. ie. People who get blackberries on corporate accounts are more likely to be the type doing 24/7 comms. Before they had a blackberry they'd have been doing 24/7 phonecalls.

Re:Are phones any different? (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 7 years ago | (#18032756)

if the boss has your home/personal cell number

Why on earth would I give that to my boss? It's called *personal* for a reason. Personnel can have it if they insist (I can almost see a reason for them to have it, although as I live alone there's no-one there to notify in the extremely unlikely event of an accident), everyone else can go whistle. Of course, I'm a developer not a sysadmin or support programmer, so I don't do "on call".

Re:being always connected to work is terrible (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031832)

I agree. The people who have accepted these things at my workplace have lost a lot of their personal time. Because the two executives in our department have no other life they think anyone else they can reach doesn't have one either.

In some cases its the employer doing the chaining, just do your best to avoid it. for some reason email seems to indicate more availability than just a phone

Re:being always connected to work is terrible (2, Insightful)

The Great Pretender (975978) | more than 7 years ago | (#18032500)

Most of the time (please note the statement 'most of the time') I find that the people who actually use theirs outside of work hours are the ones who want to feel or look important. "Hey! Look at me everyone! I'm soooo important that my work needs attention at 9pm on a Friday night, when I'm at the bar". The people who are actually that important, and there are not as many as people think, tend to turn theirs off becuase they really need the downtime and they recognize that.

Re:being always connected to work is terrible (3, Insightful)

azrider (918631) | more than 7 years ago | (#18032100)

For years, I was regional support for a computer maintenance company. I was the only one in the office without an answering machine (pre-cellular times). Six months after I got married, I got an answering machine (since I had always answered the phone, I was the first one to be called). Sure enough, two days later I got several frantic phone calls. My manager asked why I didn't answer the phone and was told "when everybody starts answering, I will". After that, we went to an on-call rotation.

well, (2)

President_Camacho (1063384) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030802)

A Director of Marketing Strategies who owns a Blackberry pointed out that many employees feel obligated by employers who have handed out the devices.

From the impression I get from all the PHB's out there, that's kind of the idea.

Depends on whether you choose to be interrupted (1)

joeflies (529536) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030804)

The people I see with the biggest problems of Blackberry dependency are the ones who set the alerts to ring/vibrate for every single communication. It's terribly annoying to have a conversation with someone and see that person turn away because they have a new email.

I have my blackberry set with a custom profile for no alerts whatsoever except for phone calls and SMS/PIN. That way, I choose when I want to do work, but it won't otherwise bother me.

Turn it OFF (4, Insightful)

revlayle (964221) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030810)

I don't care if the company gave them to you or not. When you are ready to be uninterrupted, turn it off... and your cell phone. Esp. on weekend I do not want to be bugged, I check messages once in the afternoon before and after heading out to do "my stuff" for the day. I get chained enough with extra contract work from time-to-time... when it's down time, it's down time. Your corporate assigned blackberries, PDAs, laptops, pages, and other gizmos will not make me respond any faster. (Exception: pager when you are officially to be "on-call" for a very *specified* period of time - except I am rarely on-call ever, but some people are on a regular basis)

Re:Turn it OFF (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18032974)

No need to even do that - just suffer from "isn't the reception round here really terrible" every now and again.

Not just that . . . (1)

mstahl (701501) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030816)

. . . but there's also the quality of communication between blackberry owners and everyone else. At first I was offended when I'd get these short and terse emails from my family and friends with blackberries, but then I realized they have to type on that tiny keyboard.

Even when people are at work during work hours, I get a little concerned when I see my boss head into the men's room still typing on his.

I don't want to be that connected (2, Insightful)

LMacG (118321) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030830)

Is the constantly connected, often mobile nature of the modern workplace a good thing, or not?

Not. I'll work late hours, within reason, when whatever project I'm assigned to requires that I do so, but I refuse to be at anyone's beck and call 24/7. (Probably why I'm single, but that's another story).

I plan on going to a bar tonight to have a couple of beers - I'll have a designated driver - would it be a good idea for me to answer a work call or respond to a work email if I've had one too many?

Re:I don't want to be that connected (5, Funny)

Penguinshit (591885) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031516)

drunk + root prompt = bad hangover....

Re:I don't want to be that connected (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 7 years ago | (#18032284)

Drunk + root Prompt = Boss that finally wants to talk about disaster recovery scenarios. ;)

Course, there will be a lecture about coming in drunk.. followed by your question of when are appropriate times for you to do what you want, and which times will you be on the clock... They can tell me not to go to the bar in the evening, when they are paying me to be working!

Re:I don't want to be that connected (1)

kpainter (901021) | more than 7 years ago | (#18033026)

drunk + e-mail to boss = bad idea

productivity (4, Insightful)

non (130182) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030840)

how much of the gains in productivity reported by the federal reserve are due to precisely this; businesses wringing extra, unpaid, work out of their employees.

i let it run out of battery, i forget it, i don't use it. but i'm not climbing the ladder, i'm just sitting here watching the wheels go 'round and 'round.

Re:productivity (3, Insightful)

That's Unpossible! (722232) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031238)

how much of the gains in productivity reported by the federal reserve are due to precisely this; businesses wringing extra, unpaid, work out of their employees.

Oh I dunno, probably the inverse of whatever gains in productivity are lost by reading slashdot, digg, and being able to pay bills, talk to friends, and handle emergency issues all from your desk at work?

It's a 2-way street people, don't forget to look the other way. You're liable to get run over.

A Couple Anecdotes (2, Funny)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030880)

1. My dad has one and hates how he feels "tied to his office."

2. A co-worker was very annoyed when her husband was checking it for mail while on vacation. A desire to "see if it can be skipped across the Pacific" was expressed.

Re:A Couple Anecdotes (1)

tmossman (901205) | more than 7 years ago | (#18032436)

My own father-related anecdote:

My dad was issued one by his company a couple of years ago. As background, you should understand that, while he's had a (personal, not business) cell phone for years prior, that lived, powered off, in the glove box of his car. Since then, I'd say he's become even *less* tied to his office. He's always travelled a lot for work, so it makes sense for him to have one, but he manages to use it in a manner that allows him *more* personal time, not less. For example: it's 3:00pm. The day's meetings are over, and chances are that no one will be rushing into his office in the next few hours with some mission critical problem. Why not head home, touch up that PowerPoint presentation for tomorrow from there, and catch my little sister's High School volleyball game? If someone *really* needs something, well, that's what the Blackberry's for, right?

Now, granted, he's at a point in his life (he's towards the top end of that 25-54 demographic) where he's not too concerned with beating out Johnson for the Big Promotion, and thus can use the technology to his benefit. Were he a young up-and-coming executive, things would probably be much different; the guy who rushes into the office at 5:00am at the behest of a 4:45am email will (other things being equal) get the promotion over the guy who says, "Sorry, boss, MY time is MY time." But I don't think that it's strictly an issue with Blackberries, but rather with the culture of connectedness that the proliferation of cell phones has brought us. I've worked a number of part-time (i.e. non-career-related) jobs over the years, waiter, cook, cashier, etc. and every place I worked a) assumed that you had a cell phone, and b) assumed that they could use it at any time to wrangle you in to work if they needed you. Few things are more frustrating than having your evening interrupted by work, calling to "ask" if you can cover someone's shift.

As a low-paid underling, what can you do? Tell them "No." too often, or simply ignore the call, and you soon find that your hours are reduced, or you're stuck working undesirable shifts. Drop everything and run to their service, and you just reinforce the idea that they own you, that you're their bitch. Eventually I settled into a habit of telling overzealous employers that I was "too drunk to work," even if all I had planned was an evening of Mountain Dew and Counterstrike. I was in college at the time, so it was a feasible excuse. That strategy might not work as well for, say, a cardiothoracic surgeon.

Re:A Couple Anecdotes (2, Insightful)

TeraBill (746791) | more than 7 years ago | (#18032710)

I work in an IT shop for a moderate sized company and our VP has told the people under him that have those things that he expects responses to e-mails within a couple of hours 24x7. And he has chewed out my boss, who currently doesn't have a device like that, for not responding to e-mails when he was on vacation. The problem here is that the VP lives with that thing attached to him and does e-mail while on vacation, so he expect that from pretty much everyone else. Seems like a good recipe for burning out a lot of good employees.

I don't have a blackberry (1)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030910)

I have a Treo. I shut it off, or don't answer it, when I'm not working.

In fact, I rarely answer it at all.

I don't see how the availability of cell-phones means that anybody should be able to reach me, at any hour of the day, regardless of what I'm doing.

Fucking grow a set, people. If you don't like your job, move on. If your job expects you to carry yoru blackberry 24/7, and you don't like that, move on.

Your options are only as limited as you choose to make them. Well, mine are. You're probably a fucking retard who's lucky his uncle got him that job as "computer guy".

"Age group" (1)

igotmybfg (525391) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030924)

There's no way you can lump 25 - 54 year-olds in the same "age group". And anyway, I think 25 to at least 30 year olds are more likely to be "always on" than not.

Re:"Age group" (2, Insightful)

riskeetee (1039912) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031184)

While the 25-30 year olds are likely to be more gadget geeks, the older crowd is more likely to be workaholics. I've seen more of the over-40 crowd get addicted to their crackberries, and they are typically more concerned with climbing the corporate ladder. After 50 changing jobs becomes a huge issue; many people at that point are hoping to just ride out their current job until retirement. If that means having an electronic leash, that's still preferable to unemployment. It's not the fear that they would lose their jobs if they didn't answer emails on nights and weekends, but the fear they would be first in line when the next round of layoffs hits.

Not just Blackberrys (1)

mapexvenus (1064720) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030928)

PDA's too. I use a Windows Mobile 5.0 - based device and yes, it does chain me to my work. I almost always react to an email. Sometimes this involves me replying from my PDA, or depending on what was sent to me, actually getting on my laptop and doing something more than just replying. The wife isn't happy and she is right when she says that when I PDA says jump, I actually do jump. Thankfully though I dont always jump and have learned that it is OK to let things wait until the next business day, or start of the business day, depending on when the email came in. I need to get to a point where I turn my device off outside of working hours. But then, that would defeat the purpose of having a PDA, wouldn't it?

Re:Not just Blackberrys (1)

mrsmiggs (1013037) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031758)

The purpose of a PDA or mobile phone should be to keep a mobile worker or someone on call in touch. I'm currently tied to my desk and despite vague attempts to get me a mobile I have all my calls routed through the reception (there's no direct dials). Partly to get them to install a decent phone system but also so that people will only get in touch if they actually need to get in touch. Sure I can VPN in and check my emails and do some work from home but I'm in control then.

Re:Not just Blackberrys (1)

Moofie (22272) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031912)

"I need to get to a point where I turn my device off outside of working hours"

You think?

"But then, that would defeat the purpose of having a PDA, wouldn't it?"

Why? The purpose of using a tool is solving a problem, not using a tool. You need to be the master of the tool. You need to not be a tool.

Words to live by.

Re:Not just Blackberrys (1)

Stevecrox (962208) | more than 7 years ago | (#18033078)

I have a windows Mobile 5 device, I don't work full time (I'm a student) I have it because if I'm in a lab which I'm going to type up the results its easier to put them into excel in the first place, its good to keep pitch and putt scores in, when wondering where your lectures been moved I can quickly log into the uni's intranet and find out on the fly, it syncs with outlook meaning I have everyones phone number, address and email which has proved invaliable, finally it can be fun to play with. A WM5 device is a tool, I use it when I need it, to save me running to a computer room to find something out and to remind me that I have a one off lecture. These things exist to help you get on with stuff, unless your wife/GF/etc.. is emailing you why bother answering it? If I started doing that I'd start charging the company for overtime.

They make the choice. (4, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030958)

My blackberry get's turned off when I get home. IT get's turned on in the morning when I leave for work.

I am in charge of it and I command it. I was asked once by the director of marketing why I did not answer his email he sent sunday at 5am. I said, I have a life outside work and my blackberry is off on weekends and nights.

He gave me a look like I had murdered a bag of puppies and walked back to his office.

It's your choice if you want the device and your job to own you 24/7

Re:They make the choice. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18031410)

I said, I have a life outside work and my blackberry is off on weekends and nights.
So you're also saying you're disposable because if you can't be reached in an emergency then it shouldn't impact anyone right? See, I can't say that unfortunately.. if there's an emergency then thousands of people are put out if I don't respond. :-( I really should train a backup PFY.

change corporate culture (2, Insightful)

navtal (943711) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030970)

I have disliked the passive aggressive corporate culture for a while. Change the work environment culture! Sorry to be complaining without a solution.

Blame Your Job (4, Insightful)

Greenisus (262784) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030974)

I have a Blackberry for work, as do many of my peers. Most of them work tons of overtime and feel that their Blackberry runs their lives. But not me. I work efficiently and get everything done within regular working hours and rarely need to deal with my Blackberry at night.

Don't blame the device. Blame your job.

Re:Blame Your Job (4, Insightful)

PoderOmega (677170) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031392)

In some workplaces if you are able to get things done in normal business hours, that means you don't have enough to do, and you will get more work assigned to you.

It is NOT a good thing (5, Insightful)

BlackHawk (15529) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030978)

In Freemasonry, the 24-inch gauge (or ruler) is used as an emblem of the 24 hours in the day. We are taught that we are to divide this time in three parts, with 8 being for refreshment and sleep, 8 being for the service of God and our fellow man, and 8 "for our usual vocations" -- that is, our regular job. While we understand the realities of modern life, the model of "8 for sleep, 8 for work, 8 for service" is a good one that keeps proper balance in our lives. The move to more and more work eats away at that balance, and imbalance is the source of most of our ills.

BTW, if you're wondering where "family" is in that model, we tend to our families in the 8 we reserve for service. Service to our families is the source of our strength.

Re:It is NOT a good thing (2, Insightful)

Servo (9177) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031404)

If I can work 5 hours in the office, and 3 at random intervals outside because I get to use a Blackberry, that's still 8 hours. People who insist on constantly checking their Blackberry's afterhours do it to themselves. Its not the device that needs to change, its you. Before I had a Blackberry, I'd have to stay logged into my work email... At home. Now at least if I insist on doing that I can do it from the grocery store while I'm doing something else. I feel the Blackberry is less invasive than getting calls on my cell phone constantly because most folks know if its not immediately important, just email me.

Balance is very good (3, Insightful)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031660)

I worked once for a company where the engineering culture expected that you'd do all-nighters around product release time. I never did and I expect I was way more productive.

I did **once** go in at 4 am with a batch of freshly baked muffins. People were walking about like zombies or lying around on their desks waiting for a build or test to complete. Hollow shells. Come approx 9 am they all went home completely stuffed and slept until about 3pm when they came back to work still half-zonked to work another overnighter of almost zero productivity. In the mean time, I did a normal 9-5 and achieved quite a bit. I then biked home at a civilised hour and played with the kids etc. Came back the next morning fresh and ready to engage!

It is well understood and documented that you often solve problems while doing something other than sitting in front of a computer. Take a dump, have a shower, go fishing.... You need the balance to be a productive worker.

Re:Balance is very good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18033150)

Having a Blackberry enabled me to spend this afternoon walking in the hills behind my house while "attending" conference calls and replying to the odd email.

Re:It is NOT a good thing (2, Insightful)

throbbingbrain.com (443482) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031770)

8 being for refreshment and sleep, 8 being for the service of God and our fellow man, and 8 "for our usual vocations" -- that is, our regular job
Where does commuting fit into that?

Re:It is NOT a good thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18032332)

sleep for me. yes i drive to work.

Re:It is NOT a good thing (1)

Abroun (795507) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031834)

When do you masturbate?

Re:It is NOT a good thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18032052)

I guess that's considered "refreshment"?

Re:It is NOT a good thing (1)

farcircle (1060188) | more than 7 years ago | (#18032324)

Well, for most slashdotters it could be considered their "usual vocation". The pay sucks but the hours are flexible.

huh? (1)

baldass_newbie (136609) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031028)

What are you talking about - work/life balance?
*posts from a BlackBerry Pearl*

indentured servitude (-1, Troll)

the0ther (720331) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031032)

the corporate puppetmasters will "work" without stopping until they've finally enslaved all of us. quit your job. stop paying your bills. you already worked for what you've got.

See, there's this feature... (1)

djrogers (153854) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031038)

It's called a power switch. When I don't want to check email, I don't do it. Anyone who is bullied into doing so by their employer either has no cause for complaint (it was their choice) or should seek new employment. Personally, I find my BB to ADD to the time I have with my family; I'm on the road a lot, and am able to keep up on email so when I get back to my home office a the end of the day I don't have to send any time catching up.

Which is it? (1)

ednopantz (467288) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031046)

Which is it?

Headline: "Blackberry Owners Chained To Work"
Lede: "New survey data suggests that Americans are split over whether Blackberrys are chaining them to work."

Bah (1)

bahwi (43111) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031100)

Either don't answer it if your busy, or be creative, go to the mall, or a movie. Answer your email constantly and just say "Sorry you must've just missed me I stepped out" and have a personal life during work. :)

This is why I ditched my cell and watch (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031116)

Now the man no longer controls me.

If it's important enough to phone me, you better do it when I'm at work.

Re:This is why I ditched my cell and watch (1)

kpainter (901021) | more than 7 years ago | (#18033090)

Me too but sleeping in the cardboard box and having to use the computers at the library REALLY sucks!

Re:This is why I ditched my cell and watch (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 7 years ago | (#18033324)

Yeah, but it's easier to find tin foil.

Like any tool, it's all in ho0w you use it... (2, Insightful)

ReverendLoki (663861) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031124)

If you allow your Blackberry or whatever PDA/Smartphone you have to become nothing more than an extended leash, then yes, that is what is going to happen. Myself, I'm the sole IT guy for a small business. I've recently picked one of these up to reduce the time I have to spend in the office - or, more precisely, the time I have to spend coming in to fix whatever blew up. I'm hoping to reduce the times I have to make the half-hour drive into work just to spend an hour or less in the office and drive a half-hour back home.

Re:Like any tool, it's all in ho0w you use it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18032050)

Pff, every one knows it's not just how you use it. The size of your tool DOES MATTER.

Learn to spot slavery when you see it (1)

Tom (822) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031128)

Seriously, work-life-balance only works if both parties to the deal understand it. And a lot of companies, bosses and other parties on the employer side don't. They're under pressure from investors, their bosses, etc. to turn a profit this quarter, and fuck five years down the road, by then we'll have moved our shares elsewhere.

Responsible use of resources - no matter if natural or human - is only important if you're interested in long-term viability, i.e. sustainability. If you only care for this quarter or this year, then raping it for what it's worth is the rational way to go.

As long as we as a society haven't decided where to go with this dilemma, it'll hit most of us in our work lives.

Employers and coworkers with sense... (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031138)

...I'm available almost 24/7 on my cell phone, if they need me. However, my employer and coworkers have a good sense that when you're not on the job, you're not on the job. That goes for vacation time, weekends, days off and working late alike. The mobile office is good when you set limits as to when, even if it's not to where. If I work from home one day, I still "clock in" and "clock out" and between then I work, I don't like half work, half watch TV, play games and surf slashdot and so when I have time off I don't feel like I should be half working either. However, it's infiniately useful when you're really screwed up one side and down the other to pick up the phone and say "Hi, I'm really sorry for disturbing you at this hour, but I need your help." If they abused that, I'd simply not answer the phone. E-mail is a nice extension to that as in "Can you take a look at what I just sent you?" but unless I hear about it otherwise it's things that can wait until next business day, and I never expect answers faster either.

No, not a good thing (1)

C4st13v4n14 (1001121) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031180)

I'm a doctor in Norway. I left the States and my sad life of 100+ hour work weeks, Blackberries, and nasty, aggressive, unionized nurses about four years ago. Now I make as much money as I did in the States, work 37.5 hours a week, have 11 weeks off a year, and do not own a pager. When I'm not on a shift, I don't even think about work. I have time for things such as slashdot, writing, and learning another language (German). As an American citizen, I am obliged to pay taxes to the US, not Norway, so I get to keep much more of my money at the end of the year. Life is great! Now if only I preferred blonds over brunettes...

Don't lose hope (1)

mschuyler (197441) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031280)


My wife is a "Black Norwegian," which is a person descended from some of a Spanish fleet that went aground off Norway a few hundred years ago. A few of them managed to wade ashore and wound up 'incorporated' into the population. Opthamologists can spot these people due to the shape of their eyelids which are somehow 'tighter' than normal. So brunette Norwegians do exist, and I'll bet not all of them (like my wife's family) have immigrated to the US. So don't lose hope.

Blackberry gives you more freedom! (1)

Servo (9177) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031268)

About a year and a half ago, I threatened to strike if I didn't get a Blackberry. Having a Blackberry gives me much much more freedom and I don't understand why some people are so against them.

Having a Blackberry gives me a competitive edge against my coworkers and let's me get things done and out of the way so I have more free time after work. I typically spend anywhere from 2-4 hours a day in meetings. They are hard to avoid in the corporate world, but I still have a ton of work to do. My Blackberry allows me to get some of that work done while not actively participating in whatever meeting I'm sitting in so I don't have to go back to my desk and spend hours answering email. And if I do have a ton of email to respond to, I can still leave at 5PM and answer them on the train ride back home.

It also lets me go run off to take care of personal business while still in contact with work, so if something does come up I can respond to it immediately.

That being said, I do not have the email indicator turned on. The only exception to that is email from my boss. That's ok though, since he rarely emails me. Usually its important, so I like to get that notification.

Overall, it does make me more productive. It also allows me more freedom to work where I want and when I want, all the while still being productive in the eyes of my management. You don't have to be tied down to a desk or computer all the time to get the same amount of work done.

Re:Blackberry gives you more freedom! (2, Insightful)

riskeetee (1039912) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031376)

You're also being rude to whomever is speaking during the meeting by not paying attention, giving off the impression that your time is more important than theirs. That may be true, but the "competitive edge" you gain in productivity may be offset by the vibe you're giving off by actively ignoring your coworkers.

Re:Blackberry gives you more freedom! (1)

Servo (9177) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031470)

In some cases, that can be true. But you're making the assumption that all I'm doing is answering email and not paying attention the entire time. I don't actively ignore whats going on in meetings. And not to mention that answering an important email during a long boring meeting might just keep me from dozing off or completely tuning out which would be far worse than spending 2 minutes of an hour long meeting being productive.

Re:Blackberry gives you more freedom! (1)

Tontoman (737489) | more than 7 years ago | (#18032462)

Blackberry gives you the freedom to check your messages during meeting breaks. You can deal with issues at the time most convenient to you.
The alternative is to be chained to your PC during the same time period.

Re:Blackberry gives you more freedom! (1)

QuasiEvil (74356) | more than 7 years ago | (#18032724)

About a year and a half ago, I threatened to strike if I didn't get a Blackberry. Having a Blackberry gives me much much more freedom and I don't understand why some people are so against them.
Depends on your work environment, management expectations, etc. I personally detest the things, but that's largely because if you carry one around here, you're expected to respond within seconds whenever anything twitches in your inbox. It completely destroys the value of email when used in that manner - email's best benefit is as an asynchronous queuing tool for thoughts and questions. It's worse than a damn cell phone (which I don't carry, either, except when I'm doing on-call production support). The most horrid thing is when you're trying to interact with one of the addicts, because their attention is switching a few times a second and they only at best catch half of what you say. They adamantly claim that they can do both, but the reality is far different from their perceptions. If you're discussing fluff, that's one thing, but if you're trying to explain complex problems and solutions, then eventually you just want to punch the addict or throw the crackberry out the window.

I simply told them I'd quit before I carried one, and that ended that discussion. I almost always have my laptop in front of me at meetings anyway (because I need to it address technical questions without carrying a mountain of paper), so I can always flip over to email if the meeting goes somewhere boring and irrelevant.

Once I go home, though, that's it. I don't check work mail, I don't check voicemail, and I don't respond to any phone calls that come up with work's caller ID. (That is unless I'm on production support that week, but that's a special scenario where I do my best to stay on top of everything.) It helps I like to spend my weekends in places that are very electromagnetically quiet and no cell signal ever reaches. They don't know if I'm out hiking in the mountains or just ignoring them, and I prefer it that way.

Re:Blackberry gives you more freedom! (1)

Servo (9177) | more than 7 years ago | (#18032910)

It has been my experience that you have to set their expectations. Emergency on-call means someone picks up the phone and CALLS me if an emergency comes up. Don't expect me to answer your email outside of office hours, don't expect me to answer my phone if I'm not on-call, and don't expect me to be nice to you if you call me in the middle of the night with a non-emergency even if I am on-call.

hmm (1)

Loconut1389 (455297) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031274)

The types of jobs where a blackberry would be largely useful are the types of jobs that generally require longer hours and more stress- the people who can afford a non-company provided blackberry probably are the ones who work harder as well.. and if the company provides it, then you're working somewhere big enough they can demand a lot of you. This is a statistic laden with problems.

Freedom, Thy Name Is Blackberry (4, Insightful)

sampson7 (536545) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031314)

I find my BB very freeing. I have had many leisurely morning cups of coffees on my way to work, secure in the knowledge that nobody is looking for me and that no emergencies have arisen. Same on weekends. My *job* chains me sometimes. The Blackberry simply puts me on a (much) longer leash. My options are either wait by the computer for an email, or go about my day with my Blackberry by my side. I can tell you which I prefer. Now, before a thousand people feel the need to point it out, I recognize that there is a problem with my job here. But as a corporate attorney, it's a problem I volunteered for. I knew when I took this job that I was going to be dealing with people who need (or at least think they need) answers yesterday. However, they pay me well for the usage of my time and at least, so far, I'm happy with the trade off. But the Blackberry? Best extension cord ever.

Are They Really More Productive? (4, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031322)

Do these people just feel more productive, maybe because they're using a "business machine" like the Blackberry? Productivity measurements are standard metrics of US workers for at least a century. Have these Blackberry users actually increased their productivity since before they got the Blackberry? Compared to any increase gained by their coworkers who didn't get a Blackberry? Compared to coworkers with a Blackberry who don't feel any more productive?

Workers whose productivity doesn't increase even when they get expensive technology investments like a Blackberry aren't reliable people to ask whether they're more productive. Working longer hours isn't productivity: often it's a decrease, leaving more to get done in longer time, when fatigue, resentment and just arbitrary final cutoff times decrease productivity.

If they're less productive, and feel more productive, then they'll want more pay, though they produce less, and cost more in IT costs. How about a real answer to this question, instead of mumbo jumbo about how Blackberries "feel"?

hmmm (1)

CrackerJackz (152930) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031328)

...survey results showed that those who owned a Blackberry were, in fact, more likely to work long hours than those who didn't. 19 percent of Blackberry-owning survey respondents reportedly worked more than 50 hours a week, compared to only 11 percent of the general population.
Could it be that a higher percentage of blackberry users are either in support roles or in management positions that require more time to be put in? I certainly work more than 50 hours a week, and frankly I'd rather be tethered to my blackberry than a laptop for on-the-go meeting requests, questions, etc.

Biz84tch (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18031356)

Howev3r I don't since we mad3 the so that their their hand...she

Weenies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18031368)

What are you, a powerless weenie? Turn the fucker off. Good Lord. If you want to "blame the man" on this one, look in the mirror for the one to blame.

the good? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18031394)

No one has really mentioned the positives of having a blackberry. I must admit it does tie me to work sometimes, but I work for a nursing home. Uptime is very important for our 30 facilities (medical records, admissions, etc) and Solarwinds is very nice to tell me when I have an issue with a circuit, server, or whatever. Random requests from end users or bosses can wait untill 8:00AM.

Correlation does not imply causation... (1)

porcupine8 (816071) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031398)

We can't say from this that Blackberries cause people to work longer hours, etc. Just that the same type of people who are likely to work longer hours are also likely to have Blackberries. Could be that those are the just the jobs that are likely to require one, or that people who are already workaholics are likely to jump at the chance to extend that.

If your job requires you to be "on" 24/7 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18031418)

Take your salary and divide it by all those hours. If it comes out below minimum wage, treat them with the respect you would accord any common criminal. If it comes out less than what you expect to make (on an hourly basis) in your industry, considering those hours as overtime, kindly point this out to those who express issues with your lack of availability during unusual hours. If you can't adjust your required "on" hours so as to achieve a fair hourly wage, you should already be looking for another job. It's as simple as that, with possible exceptions for "stuff that really matters", such as doctors, paramedics, and military personnel. The former knew what they were getting into, and unlike e-mail from Brad in Marketing, those calls really are important.

It's your choice (1)

tchdab1 (164848) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031434)

Some above have suggested turning it off, or turning off notifications. Fine, if that's what you want.
The point is that these electronic leashes now provide you with the choice to be always connected, somewhat connected, or only connected when you want to be. How you use them is up to you, or up to the jerks that demand that you use them. With increased power comes increased responsibility.
Users have options (unless your company has locked them down) to configure the things to be as annoying or as silent as you want.
Those of us around you have to put up with the choices that you make. Be polite to us, because I always hate it when I have to tell someone that I thought their electronic behavior was really annoying while I was {listening to a seminar,attending a class,reading in a silent room, attending an important meeting}.

These things and the conversations they inspire are another argument for gun control (aren't there times when you wish you could just shoot the idiot talking in the back?).

Put it down and walk away... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031478)

A co-worker has a Blackberry. He gets a lot of heck because he turns his off and put it in his desk drawer before he leaves work for the day. When he's off the clock, he's off the clock.

Blend? Ummm... no. (2, Insightful)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031530)

I think the basic problem is the phrase "work/life blend". I'm sorry, work is work, life is life. The two are mutually exclusive. Work pays me for a normal workday 5 days a week, and reasonable emergencies and after-hours work considering I'm salaried. I don't see employers offering unlimited paid time off so people can meet the demands of life, I fail to see why they should expect me to take unlimited uncompensated time away from my life to meet the demands of work. That, after all, is what most of the people using the "work/life blend" phrase mean: how does the employee juggle his schedule to accommodate what the employer wants. I have a simple answer: I juggle it based on how much my employer's willing to pay for my time.

And that's not an empty position. I've left two employers in my life over this. Oddly, in both cases I ended up getting more money and significantly reducing my workload as a result. I'm not afraid of doing the same again. Fortunately at my current job that's not something I'm having to deal with.

Re:Blend? Ummm... no. (2, Insightful)

sampson7 (536545) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031774)

Work pays me for a normal workday 5 days a week, and reasonable emergencies and after-hours work considering I'm salaried. I don't see employers offering unlimited paid time off so people can meet the demands of life, I fail to see why they should expect me to take unlimited uncompensated time away from my life to meet the demands of work.
See, that's the thing. A Blackberry is not for you. For many of us, our work pays us for a 5 to 7 day-a-week job. Rationale Blackberry usage is for people who are compensated in a manner that makes it clear that their lives are not entirely their own. For people not on salary, for whom getting paid is a function of hours worked, Blackberrys are the greatest thing since the telephone. Let's be clear the subset of employees we are talking about. Because a one-size-fits-all approach makes no sense.

It's really easy. Follow these steps. (1)

Chas (5144) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031552)

When you're off work, and not supposed to be working:

  1. Reach into your pocket/pouch.
  2. Pull your handheld device out
  3. TURN IT THE FUCK OFF!
  4. Place it somewhere out of sight so tht you won't be tempted to turn it back on "just for a second".
  5. Retrieve and power on the device once you're ready to go back to work.

Re:It's really easy. Follow these steps. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18032474)

6. ???
7. Profit!

Not necessarily a bad thing... (1)

mr_zorg (259994) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031648)

Is the constantly connected, often mobile nature of the modern workplace a good thing, or not?
I think that depends in large part upon your employer. If they insist on 40 hours during the week and your off time, then that sucks. If on the other hand you've got an employer like mine who accompanies such access with the freedom to work when and where you want then it's a very cool thing indeed. I can work when I'm in the mood, and skip it when I'm not because they always know that they can reach me if they need to. For them, they get my best possible work. Overall I probably work more, because I'm passionate about what I do and often keep going when most people wouldn't. But it doesn't feel like more work because it's on my schedule. FWIW, most employers seem to fall into the former category rather than the later. I'm extremely grateful for my current attitude!

Kill your cellphone! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18031718)

I once went through a tedious interview with AT&T wireless for an architect position. I was shocked that the three other architects I interviewed with all responded to the "what do you worry about most?" question with "more layoffs!" They were among the most senior employees.

Of course the job included a "free" cellphone. The really funny part is that personal calls weren't free. I could only imagine the absurd time-waste tedium of sorting out my work calls from my personal calls and filing some sort of expense report.

I didn't have the heart to tell them that I don't carry a cellphone before declining their offer.

OK, maybe I'm confused. (1)

Moofie (22272) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031740)

My Treo has this thing called a "power button". I can turn the radio off, and calls go to my voice mail. Do Blackberries not have this basic feature?

(Yes, that's a stupid question. This is a stupid problem to have.)

Appropriate to ask at time of interview? (1)

failedlogic (627314) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031790)

I am looking for work in a professional role. I'm a recent graduate with not much experience in work past the stereotypical student jobs. I've contemplated asking about expectations re Blackberries during the interview process (by the 2nd or 3rd interview anways). Has anyone been successful with this strategy ... are employeers generally honest about their expectations on this matter? I'm concerned that I'm going to be stuck answering blackberry e-mails during after-hours and not being paid. Even if paid, it takes away from the life-work balance.

And for those of you who turn off your Blackberries, have you informed your work that this would be the case? Did you have a separate communication method when the shit really hit the fan?

Though I wouldn't mind, using an idea from an earlier post of mine, answering Blackberry messages while at the beach in the Office: http://ask.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=198407&cid =16260125 [slashdot.org] )

Many workers misled (4, Interesting)

mutterc (828335) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031852)

There are a lot of people who voluntarily take on lots of unpaid overtime. They sincerely believe that this will get them ahead, put them lower on layoff lists, get them higher raises, etc.

I'm a staunch 40-hour guy, and have yet to be laid off from this particular job, for 5 years now, where there are a lot of people like that. I suppose if I'd worked 70 or 80 hours a week, I might be making a few percent more, though. If you work that out per hour, I'd be way better off doing a side job with that time. Oh, there's stock options, though; I shit you not, when this employer got bought a while back, I stood to gain $4000 before taxes from my 4.5 years' worth of stock options. I'm sure that would have been good incentive to work 50% more.

I'm not worried about layoffs. My job will go to India when it goes to India. There won't be anything I (or anyone else, right on down from the CEO of the company) can do to prevent or delay it, so why bust my ass trying?

My BB's mail config broke over a year ago (4, Funny)

I Like Pudding (323363) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031860)

I never got it fixed

I have a personal treo (1)

Unknown Poltroon (31628) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031906)

People at work have asked me for the number, jokingly, for followup for tech support questions. My response? "Sure, call all you want, I seldom pick up." No one ever calls.

To quote Nelson - "Ha ha!" (5, Insightful)

pla (258480) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031944)

many employees feel obligated by employers who have handed out the devices

With whom does the fault rest here? The employers, or the idiots who make themselves available 24/7 at the whim of their workplace?

People, do us all a favor, and stop putting up with this bullshit. Just say no. If enough of us do it, "on call" will go back to a paid status (yes, "back" - Companies used to pay damned good money to have trained monkeys available at 3am).

It really disgusts me that people often tell me they need to actually "go away" on their vacations, or they'll get called in to work. Hello, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? Stand up for yourselves! "Sorry, Dave, that third margarita looks damned good right now, so I'll talk to you when my vacation ends, on Monday morning. Beach? No, sitting in my living room, five minutes' drive from you. Buh-Bye."

As for whether or not you can "get away" with that - Yes, you most certainly can. Just do it right from day one, rather than giving in a bit at first to make yourself look more useful. Deluding your employer just sets you up for unhappyness later - Let them know right where you stand on such issues. A decent employer will even respect you for it.

Not to say I wouldn't honestly help out my coworkers, if convenient for me... I have gone in at bizarre hours to deal with emergencies - And damn well comp'ed the time the next day. But I do that at my pleasure, not as a condition of employment.

If responding off-hours became a requirement of the job, we'd have a problem, and they would need to find someone else for the position. And no, paying me more would not count as an option, because I work to live, not live to work, end of discussion.

Re:To quote Nelson - "Ha ha!" (1)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 7 years ago | (#18032484)

I'm out of points.

But you are the first Truly Insightful post I've seen here. Is it just because I agree with you? Maybe.

Working long hours to stroke your boss' ego isn't a sign of being a good worker. It's a sign of being an inefficient kiss-ass with no spine and no life.

I work to live, not live to work. Perfect sentiment, although I prefer, "Work is my #2 job, right after 'Everything else'".

Managers (1)

Trojan35 (910785) | more than 7 years ago | (#18032530)

The people who fail to manage their work-life balance are the same that never make manager (or become terrible bosses).

If you can't manage your own time well, how can you be successful managing others'?

I think that whole exempt/non exempt salary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18032622)

I think that whole exempt/non exempt salary vs hourly vs slavery desperately needs to be reexamined in our society.

Change the labor laws (5, Insightful)

BCW2 (168187) | more than 7 years ago | (#18032646)

If every manager had to pay an hour of overtime for every question he asked by blackberry, text, or cell, after office hours, there would be no problem! Most would figure out real quick what is really important and what can wait until tomarrow. I don't care if the answer takes 10 seconds, they have to pay an hour.

Somewhat conflicting (1)

leather_helmet (887398) | more than 7 years ago | (#18032826)

As a newly minted business owner I do feel, at times, chained to my BB - Answering emails in the bathroom in the morning, while at lunch & at home - Whats funny is that I go through phases, sometimes I put the BB on my nightstand, put it on silent and do not look at it again till I wake up in the morning to take a shit There are other times that I am answering emails while eating dinner, playing with the children, 'conversing' with my wife, while driving....Having 'resources' overseas compounds the problem...but I'm making decent money! /heh

Discipline (2)

PhotoGuy (189467) | more than 7 years ago | (#18033006)

So prior to the days of blackberries, they couldn't reach you by another on-demand interactive medium, say, ummmmm, I dunno, maybe, errr, the *telephone*??? There is nothing inherent in the technology that creates the social obligations. It's solely the discipline involved in using the technology.

Having greater enabling technologies for when you need responsiveness isn't a bad thing. Not realizing that there are limits, and applying them appropriately, *can* be a bad thing. (It's similar to the whole wonderful Unix flexiblity thing; it gives you the mechanism, *not* the policy. Yes, you can hang yourself with C pointers, Perl syntax, Unix cryptiveness; but policy and discipline can prevent all of that)
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