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Cell phones keep employees on call for work 24/7

Cell phones keep employees on call for work 24/7

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Published by Loree Cruz-Mante
JobMarket Online : People at Work

7/2/11 11:45 PM

News | INQ7 Money | Global Nation | JobMarket | YOU | RoadTrip

Tuesday November 22, 2005

About Us | Post Your Job Ad | Contact Us | FAQs | Feedback

Cell phones keep employees on call for work 24/7 By Loree Cruz-Mante, Contributor

Filipino manager abroad faces difficult subordinate Flunker turned successful banker advises, 'Don't let setbacks set you back' People at Work Wednesday moves on It's worth it to be a working mom Archive

IN THE EA
JobMarket Online : People at Work

7/2/11 11:45 PM

News | INQ7 Money | Global Nation | JobMarket | YOU | RoadTrip

Tuesday November 22, 2005

About Us | Post Your Job Ad | Contact Us | FAQs | Feedback

Cell phones keep employees on call for work 24/7 By Loree Cruz-Mante, Contributor

Filipino manager abroad faces difficult subordinate Flunker turned successful banker advises, 'Don't let setbacks set you back' People at Work Wednesday moves on It's worth it to be a working mom Archive

IN THE EA

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Published by: Loree Cruz-Mante on Jul 03, 2011
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7/2/11 11:45 PMobMarket Online : People at WorkPage 1 of 3file:///Users/Loree/Documents/Writing/JobMarket%20Online%20:%20People%20at%20Work.webarchive
News | INQ7 Money | Global Nation | JobMarket | YOU | RoadTrip
TuesdayNovember 22, 2005About Us | Post Your Job Ad | Contact Us | FAQs | Feedback
Filipino managerabroad faces difficultsubordinateFlunker turnedsuccessful bankeradvises, 'Don't letsetbacks set you back'People at WorkWednesday moves onIt's worth it to be aworking mom
 
ArchiveCell phones keep employees on call for work 24/7
By Loree Cruz-Mante, ContributorIN THE EARLY days of what we may call the beginnings of the modern office, communication wascarried out through mail, telephone, telex, telegraph and courier. Much later, there was fax and thene-mail. Today, face-to-face meetings continue for most workplaces, although the borgchat, instantmessenger, and e-mail are slowly taking over the need to walk into the boss's office for a work-related concern.Now at the center stage of most internal and external communicating modalities is the all-pervasive,omnipresent, and you-can't-leave-home-without-it gadget called the cell phone. As the "textingcapital of the world," this country has put high-tech and high-touch into the hands of the ordinaryman on the street who may never get to work a microwave or open a computer but who can pressaway like a technological whiz on a cell phone.Because of the cell phone, workplace decorum has radically changed since its appearance. While thecell has made connectivity as easy as a "message sent" appearing on the screen, it has alsoaffected the workplace in very dramatic and colorful ways. Depending on whose vantage point youare looking from, the cell phone can be the best or worst thing that ever came to thisplanet.
No office hours
The cell phone has made "office hours" an obsolete term. Working hours are nolonger limited towhen there is someone in the office to take a call or attend to business. The cellphone hasremoved the dependency on physical presence in a physical office. A boss' needfor information fromhis secretary, for example, does not have to be put on hold until the next day because the secretaryis always just a text away.The fact that everyone is "just a text away" is precisely why the cell phone hasalso become aproblem for the ordinary working individual. While it has allowed business to goon unhampered bythe confines of working hours, it has also put workers on a 24/7 situation, where even vacations,leave days and holidays may no longer be respected by their employers. Workers may be "recalled"and put to task even as they are sunbathing in Boracay or hibernating in a spa. If the cell phonewere not there, workers can enjoy their hard earned rest withnary a thought that they canbe disturbed in the most unwanted moments.
Less productive work
One would have tobe very courageous (or desperately wanting to be fired) to openly read comicsor play computer games during office hours where the expectation is clearly that one must beworking.But that is not the case with the cell phone. Texting is hardly considered a form of goofing off theway that other time wasters are classified as non-work. And yet, if one adds up the amount of timeworkers spend pressing away at the cell phone keys when they are supposed to be working, thefigure can be predictably rather staggering!If every text message could be simply a bit of information, then perhaps the loss of productive workwould not be something for employers to worry about. The truth, however, is that the time lossdoes not only have to do with the actual time reading the message. More time-consuming are theemotional upheavals, roller coasters and passion flights triggered by messages received. One canget bouts of nostalgia for an absent spouse, blush pink at an "I love you" or run amok withdevastating news about the children. One can even get officemates to congregate and jointly droolover a thrilling private message from a sweetheart. The passions stirred by simple text messages
 
7/2/11 11:45 PMobMarket Online : People at WorkPage 2 of 3file:///Users/Loree/Documents/Writing/JobMarket%20Online%20:%20People%20at%20Work.webarchive
are unimaginable. There is reason for employers to be alarmed.On the other hand, texting has also served as a valuable tool for heightening productivity byproviding spaces for inspiration, balm for anxiety, instant answers to worrisome concerns, or simplymoments for catching one's breath amidst tons of work stresses.
Acceptable decorum
The cell phone has triggered changes in acceptable norms at work. Take for example, a staff meeting where everyone is expected to listen and participate meaningfully in the discussion.Because there are seldom any specific "rules" that indicate that texting or receiving calls isprohibited, it is often acceptable to have attendees texting away, a behavior that is justified by one'smulti-tasking skills, in this case the ability to listen to the speaker and compose or read a textmessage at the same time. Leaving the room to answer a call on the cell phone is even regarded asan act of courtesy for which the rest of the group should be grateful because the person was kindenough not to disturb the ongoing discussion.Many workplaces have yet to come up with their own set of guidelines to govern the use of cellphones during work hours. This exercise may not be as simple as writing up rules for the use of thetelephone or the copier because it is almost next to impossible to determine allowable calls. Onewould literally have to wiretap to sift personal from work-related calls.
Status symbol
There was a time when one's worth in an organization was measured by the size of the room ordesk, the kind of inbox tray, the upholstered chair. In many ways, those symbolic indicators stillexist today.The cell phone, however, has added itself to the list of status symbols for which many a workerwould spend a good part of hard-earned take-home pay. To many, the kind of cell phonedetermines a person's place in the scheme of things. One must be seen to have the latest model tobe counted worthy.The interesting thing, though, is that the cell phone is also a great equalizer, where the distinctionbetween boss and subordinate can disappear when they share the same or equally expensive cellphone model. Certainly, it makes the taxi driver and his passenger, the hairdresser and her client,and the kasambahay and her employer equal partakers of the bounty of technology. It doesn'tmatter where and how the cell phone was acquired.
Here to stay
The cell phone revolution has slowly inched its way into workplaces, quietly and surreptitiouslyentrenching itself in the lives of the working populace until the cell phone has become the normrather than the deviation. Although texting has radically influenced the world of work as we know itin both desirable and not-so-desirable ways, it still remains a phenomenon that both employers andemployees must learn to use for their mutual benefit.Why has the cell phone mania escalated to such proportions? Because as long as Filipino workerscontinue to value connectivity and are driven to pursue it at all costs, the cell phone will be here fora long, long time-until someone comes up with a bright new idea to replace it.
(Ms Loree Cruz-Mante is a human resources and organization development practitioner, published writer, and consultant with leading transitions management firm DBM.)
 

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