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Blackberry Owners Chained to Work 210

Posted by Zonk
from the jacob-marley-in-a-suit dept.
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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Blackberry Owners Chained to Work

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  • by winkydink (650484) * <sv.dude@gmail.com> on Thursday February 15, 2007 @05:08PM (#18030762) Homepage Journal
    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.
    • by cayenne8 (626475) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @05:23PM (#18031036) Homepage Journal
      "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.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 15, 2007 @05:44PM (#18031358)
        I work for the state. They pay me even when I'm NOT working. Like now, for instance. ;-)
      • by LoveGoblin (972821) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @11:31PM (#18034804)
        Do you also get paid by the ellipsis?
      • by emurphy42 (631808)
        I do some after-hours work, but it's really flex time rather than overtime. As long as billable hours per month are high enough to make a decent profit, and response time is low enough to keep the customers happy, then everything's jake.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        I understand your point about not letting your job define you, but the counterpoint is, at 40 hours a week, you end up spending a quarter of your life doing your job, so you may as well make it something that you don't mind doing, you know? If your job is something that you want to completely shut out as soon as you walk out the door, then can you really be doing the right thing with your time there?

        I think the two sides of this argument both have some merit. If you're a Blackberry-addict, slave-to-your-job
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Aceticon (140883)

        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.

        I work as a contractor (freelancer) and in some assignments i get payed by the hour.

        In my experience, when a manager has been spewing his crap about "it's a tight deadline and we're gonna have to work long hours and weekends to do it" and you point out that you're payed by the hour, the need for extra hours "magi

    • by Vengeance_au (318990) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @05:30PM (#18031132) Homepage Journal
      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!
    • by oni (41625)
      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
    • 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 sy

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by winkydink (650484) *
        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 10
        • by SilentChris (452960) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @08:42PM (#18033552) Homepage
          Well, first, I'd rather not be a sysadmin by trade. I'd rather be a director or move towards CTO/CIO, which is why I'm focusing my time on education/networking. By and large, a monkey could do my position (or a senior sysadmin -- or anyone who would write "peer-reviewed papers on the subject). It's the technological equivalent of being an automechanic, and anyone who writes about them would be better served writing about Joe at the local garage (might want to consider a career change, bud).

          That said, I get alerts based on very specific events. The issue is that I'm motoring 10, 20-node clusters -- 200 machines with probably in the neighborhood of 2000 "important" pieces of hardware that can fail. Let me clarify what I mean by "monitoring" -- I'm the only one who does it. I'm the one who not only gets the alerts but has to head down to one of four sites to repair the nodes. I'm also in charge of optimizing and occasionally tightening the code that runs them. I'm also in charge of security (the IP on these boxes is worth about 1 billion). In any sanely run company, I would at least have 1 underling, so when a hard drive failed in node 18 of cluster 6, I could push a button and say "Johnny, go ship out a drive to the Canada site". Instead, I have to hop on a plane and remember my passport. Braindead way of doing things? Absolutely. I've argued that many times with management. But budgets are budgets and they'd rather pay one lackey a nice salary then 4 lackeys (one for each site).

          As it stands right now, I have multiple scripts that weed out largely unnecessary alerts. Node 4 of cluster 2 is at 90% CPU? Don't care. However, there's only so much one can weed out if you're the only admin. I need to know when critical hardware on any of the 200 nodes fail. I need to know when a node or cluster is pinned at 100% for an extended period of time. I need to know when a competitor might be trying to break into one of the boxes. I need to know if it's safe to bring down half a cluster for a code change (which I usually have to write myself). What is your solution when you have 1 admin and about 300 recognized noteworthy events in this type of environment? "Ignore your Blackberry?"

          In short, I need to act as a responsible employee, as I have no one else to fall back on to do the same. If that means checking my Blackberry on occasion, so be it. If your response is "Your job sucks," well, I agree. Most do. And I doubt I'll be here much longer.

          Bottom line, though, if the alternative is losing cluster time, losing a site, or losing a couple hundred million worth of IP, I'll take a minor inconvenience of checking a blinking light.

          P.s. Calling someone a "bad admin" when you know nothing about the environment, workload, etc. is bad form. My statement that you don't seem to be a sysadmin still stands -- you seem more to be a pompous prick.
          • by cHALiTO (101461)
            I don't think the problem has anything to do with you or him being a good or a bad admin. Your problem is workload. Obviously your work requires 24/7 attention. That, in my world, means more than one shift. You shouldn't be doing that alone; you should have at least 2 or 3 people that can take turns on watch, and if a problem arises, then the one on watch would handle it, only calling the others in extremely rare mega-urgent occasions. Meanwhile, the other two can enjoy their lives and forget about work u
    • by mrmeval (662166)
      Tell them they can wrap it in aluminum foil to stop the evil mind controlrays making them overwork.

  • by JustNiz (692889) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @05:10PM (#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.
    • by TheMeuge (645043)
      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.
    • 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.

      • by Tim C (15259)
        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".
        • 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),

          Well, in the "extremely unlikely" event you have an accident at home, wouldn't it be nice if your boss could try to get in touch with you? If you don't answer, they might assume you're too sick/hurt to answer, and send someone around to check on you. Depends on where you live, but I know I've read two or three accounts in the paper lately (say in the last six months) about people who have had exactly that happen, and that's how the cops/paramedics found them. Usually in time, except for the guy who

    • by Shivetya (243324)
      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: (Score:3, Insightful)

        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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by azrider (918631)
      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.
    • by Eivind (15695)
      I think it's perfectly reasonable to aks an employee to go the extra mile in an emergency. But if it's *that* important -- then the company should be willing to put action behind its words. Which in practice works best in cold hard cash.

      My boss *CAN* call on me at any time. *BUT* we've agreed that whenever I'm interupted in my free time (even if it's a 2-minute-fix) I put down a minimum of 3 hours work. At overtime rates (1.5 - 3 times normal hourly wages, depending on time of day etc).

      So: End-effect he

  • 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.
  • Turn it OFF (Score:5, Insightful)

    by revlayle (964221) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @05:10PM (#18030810) Homepage
    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)
  • by LMacG (118321) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @05:11PM (#18030830) Journal
    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?
  • productivity (Score:5, Insightful)

    by non (130182) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @05:12PM (#18030840) Homepage Journal
    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 (Score:4, Insightful)

      by That's Unpossible! (722232) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @05:37PM (#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.
    • by Aceticon (140883)

      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.

      I'll tell you a little secret about promotions in IT:
      - They go to those who invest time in socializing, making themselfs look good and knowing the right persons in the company.

      Working hard and/or be

  • 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: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by TeraBill (746791)
      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 ou
      • by Catiline (186878)

        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. 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.

        While I've not been in this position (yet!), I already know how I would respond to this — automation. While out of the office, have an email sent for every incoming, tha

  • 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: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by riskeetee (1039912)
      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 woul
  • by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @05:18PM (#18030958) Homepage
    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: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ronrib (1055404)
      Those poor puppie's. http://www.angryflower.com/bobsqu.gif [angryflower.com]
      • by Macka (9388)

        Haha, love the cartoon. You didn't read it properly though did you.

        Unfortunately he was right and you just "corrected" him with the wrong spelling. You must feel pretty silly right about now.

         
    • by pete6677 (681676)
      Nothing the director of marketing ever does is important enough to warrant a response at 5 AM. I love how these people think they are the lifeblood of the company, when really they would not be noticed if they were gone.
  • by navtal (943711)
    I have disliked the passive aggressive corporate culture for a while. Change the work environment culture! Sorry to be complaining without a solution.
    • Sorry to be complaining without a solution.

      Unionize.

      There are only two ways you can change a corporate culture. One is to be a company officer, and impose the change. The other is to get together with everyone else on the bottom and work together to change it. You don't need to over-specialize or be protective, you just need to stand alongside everyone else in your niche and tell the boss when enough is enough.

      Doctors have entire schools and medical boards. Lawyers have the bar. Why geeks can't have th
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hb253 (764272)
        In a previous life, I was a member of a union (not by choice). Although I understand that unions can be good in an ideal world, in reality they suck the life out of anybody with a work ethic. Why should I do a good job if some idiot does zero work, is protected by the union, and gets the same annual salary incrases as me?
  • Blame Your Job (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Greenisus (262784) <michael@mayotPERIODech.com minus punct> on Thursday February 15, 2007 @05:20PM (#18030974) Homepage
    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 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by PoderOmega (677170) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @05:46PM (#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.
      • by Elladan (17598)
        And if you're smart, you won't do it.

        What you're basically saying is that some places are intolerable places to work, and if you put up with their bullshit, they'll abuse you. If too many people put up with their bullshit, other places will tend to become intolerable too.

        The only ways to curtail the race to the bottom are strong will and legislation.
      • by Aceticon (140883)

        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.

        And at that moment you point out that it's not physically possible to do all that work in the available time and you ask for a prioritization of what's more important to do. (do this via e-mail and keep the e-mail and the responses)

        Then you proceed to work as usual and when the deadline arrives, the least important things will not be ready but the

  • by BlackHawk (15529) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @05:20PM (#18030978) Journal

    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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Servo (9177)
      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 getti
    • by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @06:07PM (#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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      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?

      • >Where does commuting fit into that?
        As someone who has a 2hr commute each way, I'd like to know too! I'm betting it's not the work chunk..
    • I have no problems with secret societies, even those that are vaguely sinister, but the key is to remain secret. I see people wearing rings, t-shirts, even tattoos of that symbol. I don't really care if you drink human blood, but why do you act all secret and then talk about it all the time?
      • by hb253 (764272)
        They can tell you about everything except the secret handshakes and wink-wink nudge-nudge communications they use to identify each other in public :-)
  • 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?

    Headline: "Blackberry Owners Chained To Work"
    Lede: "New survey data suggests that Americans are split over whether Blackberrys are chaining them to work."
  • by bahwi (43111)
    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. :)
  • by ReverendLoki (663861) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @05:29PM (#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.

    • by Lumpy (12016)
      You know what, a decent way to VPN and a good VNC client on every desktop does that.

      I was able to fix almost any inane call I got from sales,accounting,or engineering from the beach when on vacation.

      Three things happened.
      1 - most everyone at work never realized I was even on vacation
      2 - I did not get a vacation, just an office relocation for a week at my expense.
      3 - One incredibly pissed off wife.

      I suggest you let people get used to that unless it's a major problem, it will not get fixed unless you are ther
  • 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 o
  • ...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 o
  • 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 a
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by riskeetee (1039912)
      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.
      • by Servo (9177)
        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.
    • by QuasiEvil (74356)

      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). Th

      • by Servo (9177)
        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.
  • by sampson7 (536545) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @05:41PM (#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.
    • I agree completely. I have been able to take an occasional long lunch, go to a ball game, etc. without worrying that someone could not reach me in an emergency, or that an e-mailed alert that a server was down was sitting unread in my mail window at work. I felt the same way about beepers before the BlackBerry Age.

      BBs (and beepers) also have the advantage over mobile phones in that they are not so immediate, but provide a bit of a buffer. When you think you have an emergency, I can take a quick look at y
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @05:42PM (#18031322) Homepage Journal
    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"?
  • 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.
  • 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
  • Blend? Ummm... no. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Todd Knarr (15451) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @05:57PM (#18031530) Homepage

    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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sampson7 (536545)

      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.

  • 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

  • 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, i
  • Many workers misled (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mutterc (828335) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @06:19PM (#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?

    • by dbIII (701233)

      I'm a staunch 40-hour guy

      I'm not, but I can spend large chunks of my day reading slashdot or O'Reillys technical books online. People know that I put in the work, they know that I sometimes have to wait for systems to be idle or people to go home before I can finish stuff, so they don't care much if I'm not obviously working every minute of the working day. Sometimes it's better to put in a solid day of work on the weekend with no distractions and come in late each morning for the next week.

  • by I Like Pudding (323363) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @06:19PM (#18031860)
    I never got it fixed
  • 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.
  • by pla (258480) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @06:25PM (#18031944) Journal
    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.
    • 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'".
  • by BCW2 (168187) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @07:19PM (#18032646) Journal
    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.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by daybot (911557) *
      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. I had a 1-hour minimum charge policy while at University. If my part-time employer called or emailed me about anything I'd bill for one hour. Any calls/emails during that hour were then included
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by 955301 (209856)
      When my clients do this to me, whether by email or phone call, they *do* pay for an extra hour of work. No email or discussion goes without followup work, so if they actually succeed in getting ahold of me they get a full hours attention between the call and what I do afterwards. And surprise! I'm not on site as long the next day since I'm taking care of personal stuff during the usual work day in retaliation^H^H...^H^H to maintain my work-life balance.
  • by PhotoGuy (189467) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @07:48PM (#18033006) Homepage
    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)
  • by nick_davison (217681) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @09:02PM (#18033734)
    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.

    People who work harder on their careers at the expense of personal time tend to progress further than those who take an easier path and put personal time first.

    Blackberries [at least initially] were a tool for managers and the most critical infrastructure staff as most companies wouldn't pay many hundreds to buy the hardware plus the service costs for the average employee to check email on the toilet.

    So, one explanation is that people who were already obsessive about their careers and already obsessively shackled themselves to work anyway are the ones who gained Blackberries to simply maintain an existing destructive behavior.

    Whilst it's easy to assume that Blackberries allow working out of hours and people are forced to work longer hours because they get a Blackberry, another explanation is that people get Blackberries because they're the kind of people looking to work longer hours (or at least stay obsessively aware of things which equates to the same thing).

    It's easy to make the assumption that, because there's a correlation between A and B, there is the causation that A must clearly lead to B. It's just as possible that B actually leads to A. If B is a bad thing, we need to be careful not to assume A is thus the cause of a bad thing and therefore just as bad if not worse - it may just be that A is simply yet another symptom of the bad thing (B) itself.

    It's kind of like saying, "People who stay in bed all day are much more likely to have the flu." The easy assumption to make there is that beds somehow lead to the flu. Easy. But totally wrong.
  • Blackberry and "Smart Phones" are very handy for staying in touch between computers, but I've found that most people who use them fall into 2 categories:

    1) Work-o-holics
    2) Over-connected technogeeks

    It's rare to find crackberry people who can strike a balance between work and personal life. If you're one of those people, that's great. If you're not, it's probably because you're letting work penetrate your inner sanctum.

    Speaking of which, I'm logging off. I'm home with my lovely wife.
  • I wonder if this is related to the recent findings that people who work longer hours and feel like they have little personal time are more likely to buy Blackberries?
  • I always give everyone my emergency number ...911 I'm not trained or equipped to deal with emergencies, these people are. All else can wait until my normal working hours start. Many years ago, a wise man said to me, "I could have have a different job every day and never miss an hour of work." And so it has been.
  • [speaking with thick rrrrrusian accent] In capitalist USA Blackberries OWN YOU hahahahahrrgh!!!
  • Maybe it's just that people who work long hours like to have Blackberries?
  • I never turn off my Blackberry.

    Mainly because there is some simple functionality in it that means at 7pm it turns off automatically and doesn't wake up until 8am the next morning. Even then, after 6ish I generally exercise some restraint on whether I read the email when it arrives or not (more often than not I don't bother).

    This is almost as silly as the "Powerpoint dumbs down presentations" argument that is occasionally trotted out. If people are stupid enough to shackle themselves to their device or p

  • Just as long as I got overtime for it.

    Yet another example of why we need an IT union. Someone's sig says "IT workers are the teamsters of the 21st century."

  • by badzilla (50355) <ultrak3wl@gPOLLOCKmail.com minus painter> on Friday February 16, 2007 @09:09AM (#18037684)
    UK figures show that, on average, employees put in an amount of unpaid time over the period of a year that is equivalent to working for free up until Feb 23. That date every year is "Work your proper hours day" when employees are encouraged to do just that. Trade unions usually also take the opportunity to nag employers to stop taking advantage.

    http://www.worksmart.org.uk/workyourproperhoursday / [worksmart.org.uk]

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