We’ve all been guilty of it: Sifting through emails on our phones during the commute to work. Staying up late to finish off the stuff we couldn’t during the day. Or worst of all, taking our laptops home with us at the end of the day “just in case”.
The fact is we have a problem. With the advancement of technology, we’ve developed a habit of feeling like we always need to be contactable and working 24/7. But here’s the thing: Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should.
Computers are no longer big, bulky desktop sets that are immobile, they’re portable machines that weigh no more than a couple kilos in your arms. They’re designed to be compact and used anywhere there’s a powerpoint plug available. But just because phones have internet capabilities and don’t tether you to a single location anymore, doesn’t mean you need to be contactable at all hours of the day.
But in the age of technology that promotes just that and some, it’s hard to break away from the feeling. Especially when everyone is taught from an early age that to be successful, you must work harder than everyone else. But there’s a big difference between working hard in the office and turning your home into a second workplace.
The normalisation of burnout culture in a society simultaneously focused on wellness and mental health shows the double-edge sword of wanting it all. But you are no use to your boss or yourself if you’ve lost who you are from overworking, because a burnt-out employee is just as useless as a lazy one.
Sure, it’s easy to say that it’s not really work if you’re just answering an email, or just finishing off a deck or just getting ahead of your workload so you can have an easier tomorrow. But often “just” doing something snowballs and then suddenly you’re “just” working seven days a week and staying up until 3am every night.
It’s unhealthy to take your work home with you and it’s unreasonable for your boss to expect you to do so. If you feel like you have no choice than to be working at home on top of all you do at the office, then there’s a bigger problem. Speak to your boss about your workload and explain that their expectations are unreasonable.
In this situation, remaining silent will only make your employer think you can handle everything you’re currently doing, and more. If you genuinely feel you need to be working 24/7, then you need be paid 24/7 and the likelihood of that happening is slim to none.
But the solution is simple: Just stop taking the office home with you at the end of your workday. Turn off your work app notifications on your phone, only reply to emails during the eight hours you’re in the office and put your phone on Do Not Disturb after 8pm. Oh, and most importantly, leave your laptop on your desk when it’s time to go home.