I’ve always appreciated the freedom and flexibility mobile tech allows me to have. From staying in touch with my kids overseas to running the family business on the move. In fact, right now I’m writing this on a plane.
And I think it’s the same for most people. With instant notifications and endless apps across phones, tablets and computers, we’ve never been more connected. In one afternoon, I can Skype family, send off a string of emails and tweet a photo from the footy. It’s all so normal now.
But as an old boy, I sometimes wonder whether constantly being connected is a bit much. It’s obviously a huge plus for productivity and convenience. But it can also mean you don’t have any moments to yourself without making a conscious effort to switch off.
So to get some perspective, let’s weigh it all up. Here’s my take on the good and bad of always being connected.
Work anytime, anywhere
For someone who doesn’t keep regular 9-to-5 work hours, the ability to get things done at any time of the day or night is a huge advantage for me. It’s also a great productivity boost for teams who don’t need to be in the office and on-the-go business owners.
With apps like Xero, I can check the business accounts with the click of a button, rather going into work for an update. Then I can follow up with a phone call or email if I need more info, or video call into WIPs to keep across what’s going on.
Today, anyone can work around the hours and locations that suit them, bringing a flexibility never seen before. Used right, this can really help with achieving a better work life balance.
Instant access to information
From movie times to breaking news or urgent client requests, the ability to find what we’re looking for in seconds has become second-nature. As a small business owner, that flows the other way too.
There are a huge range of ways customers can engage with a business, and being connected means that their questions, complaints and feedback can be received and actioned immediately. And when you’re looking to standout for service, this agility is priceless.
Client requests don’t have to wait until someone gets into the office and your calendar can be managed from the mobile. It probably makes you busier, but a better business person too.
The inability to switch off
If the last thing you do at night and first thing you do in the morning is check emails and social media, you’re not alone. The boundaries between work, home and social circles have been blurred by wireless connections and mobile devices.
While some would say that’s a good thing, I think the pressure to be available and able to work 24/7 can really wear you down without the right boundaries in place.
To properly switch off you need to be disciplined with when you are online. Put rules in place, like turning off the phone after dinner, to ensure your home life doesn’t suffer for your work, and vice versa.
Probably the biggest drawback of constantly being connected is the distraction it causes.
Whether it’s a phone call that interrupts a meeting, or a notification that breaks your concentration, technology can crash productivity if it’s not managed right. It can also make you an anti-social bugger, so best manage those mobile phone manners too
Again, this comes down to setting rules and being very conscious of how and when you’re connected.
On balance, I’d say being constantly connected is a great enabler, but it just needs be managed to avoid the stress and anti-social behaviour it can cause.