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How has technology affected work-life balance?

Bruno Silva

Have you ever messaged your teacher or co-worker after 8PM asking for help with a task due the next day, expecting a response within the same minute? 

We demand more from people because we’re connected all of the time through our devices. The common expectation in modern society both within the workplace and our day-to-day lives is to maintain this connection. From improved communication to hardware and software advances, there’s no doubt that technology is shaping our lives, increasing productivity levels and methods of working on a daily basis. Since the industrial revolution, advances in technology have skyrocketed, constantly improving the health, rights and wellbeing of employees, enabling us to work and communicate better and in a secure environment. However, the plethora of advantages that coincide with these developments shouldn’t force the expectation of being connected 24/7, and it’s important for employers to pass on this message to staff; we can’t let our work-life balance become disproportionate and unstable.

The rise of remote-working
The impact of technology on work has increased the rate of production and reduced the time it takes to complete tasks. Apps and programs such as QuickFMS, a cloud-based software which improves workplace management, means that in the workplace we can keep everything organised whilst communicating with others using apps like WhatsApp and Skype, allowing work to be completed faster and to a better standard. Essentially, technology means that it’s practical to work both in a physical location and remotely - this is even more apparent during the recent pandemic. At the same time, this brings us back to the same propensity of letting our work life mix in with the rest of our free-time; some of us resort to using the same devices both during and outside of our jobs since we have to work from home, especially during Lockdown.

With devices fighting to grab our attention to the tasks we need to complete, are we allowing ourselves to separate work from everything else when we’re relaxing?

Improved communication
After conducting an interview with a staff member from Churchill Contract Services Ltd, a cleaning service for workplaces, I was able to discover more about how workers use their phones to communicate with others in their job and improve their productivity. In this business, staff are provided with a company-owned phone with an application that allows employees to manage their work more efficiently. Some of the main features include: 

  • Allowing managers to list tasks and important information, including the location of the job, and which cleaning products can be used.
  • A section where staff are required to upload 14 photos of the site they cleaned and send them to the employers: this allows the business to keep track of the employees and their performance, and provides clients with reassurance that work is being completed. 
  • A section that gives details about their upcoming tasks, which means that it’s a lot easier for them to view where they are going the next day and they can easily plan the time it will take to go to every location, therefore increasing productivity.

With the benefits that technology brings, we also need to consider the risks and issues that can occur as we adopt devices into our daily routine.

Top tips to improve work-life balance
Aside from improved productivity, I think that we should all reflect on how well we manage our work-life balance; with devices fighting to grab our attention to the tasks we need to complete, are we allowing ourselves to separate work from everything else when we’re relaxing? I cultivated three primary rules, which I use myself to improve my ability to separate work from everything else:

  • Set your phone on silent mode after work or disable notifications for specific applications.
  • If you can, use different devices for your job and entertainment. For example, if you spend all day working on your laptop, try to watch a movie on your TV.
  • Ensure that your co-workers/colleagues know your work hours.

We’ve become a more productive society, and despite certain security risks, technology has helped us do more in a shorter amount of time, yet at the same time we expect ourselves to do more and more work each working day. Even though we’re all connected through technology, we shouldn’t expect others to reply outside of their working hours, even if they are happy to do so. If you’re one of those hard-working people that “don’t mind” speaking about work outside of working hours, try to focus more on your well-being; time down isn’t a horrible thing, and to be fair, responding to work-related questions late at night just makes others feel guilty for not doing the same. 

So this Mental Health Awareness Week; why not try turning off those notifications and spend some time away from the work laptop?

Read more of our student's opinions on how technology is changing the world of work.

 For resources to support your mental health visit, YoungMindsKooth, or the Headspace app.