When I started writing for Our Towne I wanted to speak about not only my matrimonial and family law practice, but also share what I have learned in running a business for 25 years. I have somewhat strayed from the business topics but, with a new year, I am pledging to include small business words of wisdom in some of my articles.
I often bemoan the use of electronics and how it has negatively impacted relationships, and subsequently, my practice. Before email, text, voice mail, etc. , if my client and/or their significant other wanted to engage, they either needed to do it in person, find the person sitting by their phone, or mail them a letter. As all these things took time and effort, my clients (and I) experienced significantly less negative interaction.
The electronic age has not only changed our personal relationships, but also our professional ones. Employees walk into work holding more computer power than we landed the first man on the moon with. The employee doesn’t come to work alone, he brings everyone he has every known in the door with him.
There are many people who talk or text on their way to work, as they walk in the building, and then the office. There is not a minute that it is a break from personal life to professional one. Then the employee’s smartphone sits there on the desk, vibrating, beeping and beckoning. May people have watches that synch to their phones, so that they don’t even need their phone in plain sight to be notified that someone wants to talk to them, is texting them, or some great event in the world needs their attention, like seeing a cute cat video.
All of this distracts from the task on hand- your work and your job. Studies clearly show that companies lose millions (billions?) of dollars each year because of employees either not working while at work, or being distracted with their personal lives.
For employers, I encourage you to have your employees share their work number with friends, family, children’s school, childcare, etc. Then, if someone really needs to speak with the employee, she is reachable. If the employee says, “I need to be available to my childcare provider” your answer is “voila, have them call you at work.” Reasonable personal calls should be acceptable.
To the employee, if you want to stand out, leave your phone in the car, shut it off, or otherwise disengage so that you are giving your full attention to your job. And if you think you are back door sneaking by only bring your phone to the bathroom, etc. , your boss probably isn’t as stupid as you think she is. Not every trip to the bathroom, break room, or mailroom, takes 15+ minutes each time. If you wouldn’t steal money from your employer, then why would you steal time?
For 2020-Disengage at work, and resolve to be present in all aspects of your life.
February 2020 Margaret Tabak