Posted by: mobilitycloud | April 17, 2012

Why it’s OK to leave a tech job at 5 p.m.

I, as the self-proclaimed “Evangelist” of all things mobile, read this article from the CEO of Mashable as he brings up a great point on the Law of Diminishing Returns (AKA “More is good up to a point”) about the COO of Facebook, who actually works what seems to be regular hours. She appears to be in the minority of us Tech Workers who leaves the office at 5:30 to enjoy dinner with her family at 6 and spend quality time them. What the article doesn’t reference is whether she logs in later that night via her laptop/tablet/smartphone to keep up-to-date on her work (or even login to her Facebook page?) so that her day looks like a lot like ours, working anywhere at anytime.

This does bring up a good point on the Professional/Personal Worklife Balance that I, along with most of us, struggle with on an hourly/daily/weekly/forever basis. Understand that I’m one of those folks that has a home office so that line is really blurred as to when business life begins and ends when you are in your home, that’s certainly a tough one. Where this really becomes an issue is when we are away from our desk and the prospects of doing things mobile (again Business/Personal all mix in here) become a constant rapid-fire process in front of our smartphones/tablets/laptops as we keep working until either we realize that everyone has left alone in a dark corner somewhere or your battery dies on your device and it shuts down. The beauty of mobility is that it allows us the marvelous capability to be “On” at anytime but the downfall is that we all sometimes forget to turn it off, for which I’m guilty as charged. As my current boss recently told me, “I’m a workaholic, but I try to log-off…find some balance time…working late is not always healthy.”

All that being said, I certainly don’t have answers as to how to solve that magic Work/Life Balance, so I’d like to hear your comments as to what you do to ensure that ever-changing, ever-evolving business life doesn’t infringe too much on your personal life as that is ultimately where we all need to focus. To help provide some ideas I have posted some pictures to give you some ideas to get started including pictures I took from this past weekend’s Marlins game at their spectacular stadium. You will notice a sign for their VIP Food Line for those that placed their order via their Smartphone, but I however chose to take in the ambiance and actually work up to the concession stand and call out my order, what a concept! Let’s Go Mobile, but turn it off once in a while!

http://www.cnn.com/2012/04/16/tech/web/cashmore-facebook-sandberg/index.html?hpt=hp_c1

Marlins Ballpark

Editor’s note: Pete Cashmore is founder and CEO of Mashable, a popular blog about tech news and digital culture. He writes regular columns about social media and tech for CNN.com.

(CNN)Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg recently set off quite a debate in the tech world when she told an interviewer that she works a 9-to-5 schedule:

“I walk out of this office every day at 5:30 so I’m home for dinner with my kids at 6, and interestingly, I’ve been doing that since I had kids,” Sandberg said in a video posted on Makers.com. “I did that when I was at Google, I did that here, and I would say it’s not until the last year, two years that I’m brave enough to talk about it publicly. Now I certainly wouldn’t lie, but I wasn’t running around giving speeches on it.”

Here’s the essential questions raised by the tech executive’s comments and the debate that followed: In a competitive industry where your work is never truly complete, has it become socially awkward to leave work at a time that used to be the standard?

And are those working eight-hour days that end at 5 p.m. being quietly judged by their co-workers? Whatever happened to “work-life balance“? Worse still: Are those who work these “standard” hours being overlooked for promotions?

Sandberg’s timing would suggest that such biases exist. She only felt comfortable talking about her work hours once she had entered the highest levels of management.

What’s clear is that many in the technology industry hope to take the shame out of having a balanced life. Mashable reader Dave Plantz said of Sandberg’s story:

“Good for her! Life is way more important than work and I refuse to have to go to a funeral for a loved one before remembering that. I’ll take family over developing the ‘next big thing’ anyway. I can always create new things, but I can’t keep people forever.”

Reader Jason Hunter added that we shouldn’t hold different social norms for single people:

“But, let’s forget about having family or being married for a minute. 5:30 as an on average time for going home should be acceptable for everyone — single or not single … family or no family — assuming you don’t come into the office everyday at 11 a.m.”

The conversation reminds me of media mogul Arianna Huffington‘s thoughts on sleep: Not only do modern workers not get enough of it, but boasting about how little sleep you had last night has become a badge of honor. Those getting plenty of sleep must not be working hard enough, some assume.

And how about the blurred line between work and home life in the modern world? Sandberg admits that after dinner with her kids, she’s back to checking e-mail — it’s clear that “being at work” is no longer necessary for “doing work.”

The challenge here: Given that we’re able to check our e-mail at all times, we assume that working at all times is the new social norm.

Ultimately, I think the measure of our work is in our productivity, not the number of hours we put in. Alas, few of us are in a position to change perceptions — it’s up to both employers and employees to make living a healthy life socially acceptable again.

Here is the VIP Food Line if You Ordered via Your Smartphone

Marlins Ballpark

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