When Do Our Smart Phone and Computer Office Hours End?

18 Nov

Dr. Cannon, my Management Communication professor, has office hours between 9:30am and 11:00am on Fridays, but when I emailed her this Saturday morning, she responded within the hour.

My boss this past summer worked Monday to Friday between 8:00am and 6:00pm, but she had her phone line at work linked to her iPhone, so she could be a part of important conference calls while driving or at home.

My aunt, a lawyer in New York, has two BlackBerrys: one for work and one for her family and friends. My mom calls her on her work BlackBerry because she is more likely to answer.

When do we draw the line between our office hours and our time off? With smartphones, Bluetooth, iPads, and tablets, reaching someone with an email or a phone call any hour of the day is almost too easy. According to CNN Money, “smartphone ownership will surpass 80%” by 2015 (Goldman). I expected Dr. Cannon to respond to my email within 24 hours because I was almost certain she had a smartphone.  With smartphone ownership rapidly growing, these expectations will become more common in our society, and the line between our office hours and time off will become even less clear.

Internal Communication

Dr. Cannon may need to be more accessible to her students every day because internal communication within a classroom or business is crucial for relationships within a school or company. Teachers, advisors, small business owners and managers need to be available more often because they play a significant role in impacting the wellbeing of their students, employees, companies, and schools.

External Communication

External communication is not always necessary during the evenings or weekends, and it can take away from an individual’s own wellbeing and relationships with his or her friends and family. Although we want to be as efficient and successful as possible, we need to take care of ourselves and find self-fulfillment in activities other than our work.

Below is an article about technology’s effect on our lives and some tips to avoid a technology addiction:

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-happiness-project/201003/find-way-unplug-technology-or-how-escape-the-cubicle-in-your-pocke

http://money.cnn.com/2010/10/19/technology/smartphones/index.htm

by Elisabeth Green

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3 Responses to “When Do Our Smart Phone and Computer Office Hours End?”

  1. Katie Bush November 22, 2011 at 3:29 am #

    Elisabeth,

    I really appreciate your article because I’ve had the same questions as I’m getting older and expected to be more responsible about email. As beneficial as technology can be for quick communication or working from out of the office, learning when to take a break from communicating is difficult. My brother, for example, will come home from work for a holiday but get 60 emails an hour; if he leaves his work blackberry for even a full meal, he must spend the next couple hours catching up.
    I thought the first article you linked to provided some helpful thoughts. Particularly interesting to me was the comment about someone who tells others he doesn’t respond to emails on the weekend. While he really reads and answers these emails, just waits to send responses until Monday morning, it does discourage others from assuming they can rely on him when he is at home. This could be a useful strategy as we graduate and have our first full-time jobs.
    On this subject, I would also be interested to research the etiquette for what time you can send emails and to whom; while I’m often up late working, I will wait to email a professor until the morning. On the other hand, I don’t think twice about sending an email to a group member or peer late at night.

    Katie

    • Robert Knapel November 29, 2011 at 6:31 am #

      Elisabeth,

      I certainly think that this is a very interesting topic. I have two jobs and both of them allow me to work from my dorm room. The way that I keep in touch with my bosses is via email. I am constantly getting emails from them about assignments and things that I need to take care of each week. There is no off time. My bosses have sent me emails at all hours of the day and they expect the work to be finished as soon as possible. This prevents the separation of personal time and time for work. At any moment it could be requested that I get to work on an assignment that my boss wants completed.

      Robert

  2. Angela Chen November 30, 2011 at 6:10 pm #

    Elisabeth,

    I’ve often asked myself this question. Although I believe smart phones have added a tremendous amount of value to business communication, I also believe that they impose unrealistic expectations. I receive all emails almost immediately because I check Gmail and outlook on my iPhone often. Even so, I never respond to important emails from my iPhone. It is easy to make spelling errors on such a small screen and I would rather wait to respond to an email when I have computer access. Others expect immediate, or very quick responses, from individuals with smartphones. However, since I wait to respond to emails, it is possible that my future bosses or colleagues find me unreliable. We need to remember that effective communication takes time/thought and there are circumstances when it is unrealistic to expect others to respond immediately.

    Angela

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