Avoiding the ‘always available’ trap

December 18, 2009 § Leave a comment

Well don’t we just have it all at our fingertips these days?

Mobile telephony, satellite monitoring, wireless go anywhere internet connection, SMS and ‘always on’ email straight to our palm devices.

As soloists, there’s no excuse for failing to stay in touch with our work (and our clients) regardless of where we are or when. The marketers of course, would have us believe this is all good.

I disagree.

Sure, some of it can be good and at times it is very convenient, but the worrying trend is that always available may become the workplace norm.

A quick glance at how these new services are being marketed and you’ll see imagery depicting young, happy executives tapping away at the keyboard while at the beach or in the garden. In the distance we see friends and family supposedly playing and communing happily.

Everyone is doing what they love. How nice.

Let’s now consider the reverse scenario: Friends and family playing happily in the office while you work. Do you reckon you’ll get much done? Nope. Me neither. You’ll be distracted and certainly won’t be concentrating on your work.

Relaxing with friends and family isn’t a totally passive past time. You need to participate if you are to give and receive. It’s called ‘being present’. If you’re not joining in, all you’re really doing is moving the office to a new location…and one where nothing terribly meaningful is achieved.

Let’s look at other implications of the always available trap.

Remember the good old days when you took a day or two off and were pleasantly surprised when everything ran smoothly in your absence? The times when your clients and associates rose to the challenge of management and decision-making and showed themselves much more capable than you had given credit?

Why would anyone risk making a decision about anything now, when you’re just a moment away?
On the other hand, if you want to make every micro decision (er, control freak!) then carry on, you’re doing just fine.
While some soloists may quite rightly say that being always available and in-touch is wonderful for their business, a survey on our site suggested over 72% of you would be more than happy if a surprise law banned mobile phones. Chances are partners and friends are sure to agree!
The answer to this is not that complex. Being available can most certainly be good, but we have to establish boundaries with our colleagues and clients.

If you don’t stay in control of your involvement in your business, you’ll forever be its prisoner.

That doesn’t sound like a good recipe for loving your work does it?

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