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Technology=stress (another thing I don't miss)
Old 03-06-2015, 12:29 PM   #1
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Technology=stress (another thing I don't miss)

Just read a New York Times article that touches on how technological advances have added to work-related stress: "How To Find More Time"

In the final years of my career, answering emails promptly on weekends became an expectation, as did responding to texts in the evening. The long-held line between work and leisure was not just blurred but removed. This added a lot of stress to my life and further fueled my hunger to retire early.

Now that I've retired, that's entirely gone. I can see why several here have posted that their blood pressure and overall health improved after ER.
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Old 03-06-2015, 12:41 PM   #2
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I think what bothered me most was that a lot of this is "we do this because we can do this, not because we need to do this". During my last 7 w*rking years there was an expectation that you would be available via text and email outside regular hours. However, there really wasn't any competitive advantage to doing this, we were not up against any deadlines, "real" work on a project wasn't going to happen until people were in the office, etc. It was mostly a case of people trying to look important by sending emails at all hours of day and night.

I realize that other situations are different, especially in highly competitive business situations, but a lot of this behavior seems to be nothing more than posturing and is counter-productive in the long run.
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Old 03-06-2015, 01:19 PM   #3
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One place abused this so much, that when a fellow went on vacation for 3 wks to Europe. The boss had him take a laptop so he could work while on vacation "if he was needed" .
The boss made him do this every year !!!

I made sure I went on vacations that were so remote, there was not even cell service, and I told the boss if he needed me to phone a hotel there, and they will send a guy in a boat out to the islands to look for me, and I'd get right back to him within a day.

Needless to say the boss never asked me to take a laptop on vacation
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Old 03-06-2015, 01:35 PM   #4
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One place abused this so much, that when a fellow went on vacation for 3 wks to Europe. The boss had him take a laptop so he could work while on vacation "if he was needed" .
The boss made him do this every year !!!

I made sure I went on vacations that were so remote, there was not even cell service, and I told the boss if he needed me to phone a hotel there, and they will send a guy in a boat out to the islands to look for me, and I'd get right back to him within a day.

Needless to say the boss never asked me to take a laptop on vacation
Good outmaneuvering on your part! There can be a downside, though. It can take days to catch up on emails upon your return. They've got you coming and going. That's why by the end I was rarely taking vacations of more than one week.
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Old 03-06-2015, 02:17 PM   #5
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Good outmaneuvering on your part! There can be a downside, though. It can take days to catch up on emails upon your return. They've got you coming and going. That's why by the end I was rarely taking vacations of more than one week.
When I went on vacation my out of office message named the person covering for me, and I stated that on return I would be deleting all accumulated email, which I did.

Our company also had a mail file limit of 500MB, and I kept a selection of very large attachments on my hard drive. Before leaving on vacation I would send myself a few emails with a selection of these big files attached so that my mail file was full, and as well as receiving an out of office message the sender would receive a "mailbox full" error message.
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Old 03-06-2015, 02:18 PM   #6
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I was issued a Megacorp Blackberry somewhere around 2005-6. From that day onward, I was on-the-clock 24/7/365. I never truly had a day off. It was expected that you read and respond to email real-time. We used Outlook out-of-office notifications when traveling or on vacation to temper expectations. But it didn't really matter. If the big boss needs an answer, you stop whatever you're doing and get an answer. It's just the reality of Megacorp and the work I did.

At first, this greatly improved efficiency and productivity. But yeah, eventually it just added to the already-high stress level and often seemed rather unnecessary. I can clearly remember being jet-lagged and trying to sleep in a hotel somewhere in Asia with my Blackberry notifications going crazy on the bedside table. I could tell by the pattern and frequency of notifications that US people were getting impatient for an update. So, no more sleep that night.

Toward the end of my career, I became a lot more selective about who I would respond to (and how quickly) based on my own assessment of the topic and its criticality. I also became a little cocky about people setting up meetings on any open spot on my Outlook calendar. I would reject the meeting with no comment or alternate time, which was essentially the Megacorp equivalent of GFY.
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Old 03-06-2015, 02:24 PM   #7
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I was on call 24/7 almost from the beginning of my career in 1977, so the expectations were always there in my line of work (engineering/manufacturing). Dealing with work nights & weekends didn't bother me that much, it was usually easier than waiting to find out next day/week when there were often bigger/deeper issues.

From phones, to pagers, to dumb cell phones, to smartphones/tablets/laptops - just made "communication" easier, both for the good and the bad. Late in my career I could sit in my jammies (first only from home, then from anywhere later in my career) and log into our process control systems and see-diagnose-fix problems that I would have had to drive in for before, so technology had it's upside too. I didn't miss the days of totally confused operators/supervisors trying to describe what was happening, often unsuccessfully. 'When this happened before, I hit this button, but it's not working this time...' (expletives deleted)

But when checking routine emails daily and answering routine calls on extended vacations became an expectation, that I admit to resenting somewhat. If I thought it could wait, I'd often blow it off, or tell the other party how they could solve the issue themselves...
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Old 03-06-2015, 02:25 PM   #8
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When I went on vacation my out of office message named the person covering for me, and I stated that on return I would be deleting all accumulated email, which I did.

Our company also had a mail file limit of 500MB, and I kept a selection of very large attachments on my hard drive. Before leaving on vacation I would send myself a few emails with a selection of these big files attached so that my mail file was full, and as well as receiving an out of office message the sender would receive a "mailbox full" error message.
You certainly figured out how to beat the system! Wish I had used some of these tricks before heading out the door -- I wouldn't have left so much vacation time unused.
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Old 03-06-2015, 02:32 PM   #9
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Years ago I talked to an Uncle who had grown up as a boy in pre WW2 Italy. He often worked very hard. And, things like money, meat and sometimes fuel to warm the house were in short supply. But stress was not a big deal except for short times when bad weather or some other threat to the family emerged.

He told me about his work days: Help his older cousin load a cart with something they were bringing to another farmer, to market or whereve. Ride an hour or two, unload the cart, sometimes load something else onto the cart, eat lunch, ride an hour or two home, unload the cart, care and feed the mule that took them both ways.

Along the way they would often stop to exchange information with other friends and relatives, sometimes pick-up/drop-off something else, or occasionally get in a quick sports game with friends.

When it got dark, he stopped working, except that they always had to care for the mule no matter what.

Doesn't sound to stressful, except when it for the few days a month something went wrong.
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Old 03-06-2015, 03:34 PM   #10
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Yes connectivity does potentially add stress but IMO unless you are a doctor or someone else who needs to be on call for life and death type functions most people CHOOSE to be answering emails and calls at all hours. To those above who say that it was expected and so they did, did you consider what would happen if you did not? I have been working in a 24/7 environment for 25+ years (also manufacturing/engineering) and as these "intrusions" to my downtime came I simply refused to allow them to intrude. I would only make exceptions with certain people(since I knew they would only call in case of an absolute emergency) or under some very specific conditions, lines down that kind of thing but then we sometimes didnt go home anyways until things were under control. I always figured the worse thing that could happen was I'd get a poor review (tough to fire someone if you are already working 60+ hrs a week I think you might a case). When I went on vacation I also said who was my designate and that I would not be responding to emails until I got back. I didn't delete all old emails but I did archive all but the last few days. It has never had a negative effect. I am and have been considered a valuable employee with above average reviews so...Mind you I have never been working to become the next VP/CTO/CEO so that could be a difference. I have worked simply to fund my lifestyle and primarily my ER lifestyle (work to live not live to work). As a result I find work not very stressful in general and it takes me all of 20 minutes to unwind from a hard day. If no one is going to die because you didn't call in I think it is safe. At a lower level of importance, if production comes to a halt because you didn't well that sounds more like a training issue if you are the only one who can make the decision/fix the problem.

I think because so many people do the 24/7 it's thought of almost like boy scout badge...you have to earn to show you are a dedicated employee but it isn't really. Maybe we'll see stickers on the back of cars soon saying "My spouse was the employee of the month at Megacorp" :P
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Old 03-06-2015, 03:35 PM   #11
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It was an expectation of my j*b. In the early years it rotated, so unless it was your week no big deal.

Later it was a daily and got worse. Somehow my name got on the CIOs list of people you sent out when there's a crit sit. While exciting for 10 years or so it eventually got really old. Traveling to wherever without a clue other than the client was upset. "You can come home when their happy" was generally all the direction you got. He moved on and that phase ended. The last 10 of 12 years I would use all my vacation and somehow never had cell service.

My last two years, totally insane. Sometimes 700 pages a night. My dumb cell couldn't keep up. I recall my manager calling me at home at 3:00 AM, yelling why wasn't I on some conference call. Somewhere in the middle of 700 pages there was one I missed that wanted me to dial in at 3:00 AM. Those many all night calls helped make my bs bucket get full faster.
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Old 03-06-2015, 04:17 PM   #12
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Heh. As soon as I had picked out my retirement date, I went into MeetingMaker, our scheduling program, and blocked out every day from the retirement date for the next 30 years as an all-day, no reschedule, top priority event.

I also changed my mail signature to read:
Quote:
xxxxx@ustacorp.com Warning: E-mail address expires March 7, 2008
This resulted in a bug report, Radar 5737699, as others investigated what might be causing this message in our Mail system, and what would make an E-mail address expire. The bug report was already 8 pages long when I left...

(Ustacorp current employees reading this can probably tell if this is their company. Reading this Radar should be good for some amusement. )
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Old 03-06-2015, 04:21 PM   #13
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I have a company mobile phone which is on from 9am-5pm only. I can always pick things up next day (bosses are not amused by this attitude).
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Old 03-06-2015, 04:31 PM   #14
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Badly designed or implemented tech causes stress.

Well designed and implemented tech relieves stress.

As an example, I have a smartphone. I can set the smartphone to silently collect text and voicemail messages for some preset period of time, so other silly people cannot bother me. This to me is a Good Thing. Even better, when I run across some Self-Important A-Hole leaving an escalating series of texts or messages while my phone is in this mode, I can flag the caller specially with a quick gesture, putting them in a very special address book group with it's own unique... properties...

This is a wonderful stress reliever, especially when combined with a FIRE status.
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Old 03-06-2015, 05:14 PM   #15
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I made sure I went on vacations that were so remote, there was not even cell service, and I told the boss if he needed me to phone a hotel there, and they will send a guy in a boat out to the islands to look for me, and I'd get right back to him within a day.
My brother, when camping in the wilds of PA (Cook Forest State Park) used to have to go to the rickety old fire tower once a day and climb it (fortunately, still open to the public and OK to climb) and download his e-mails and respond to them from the top, which was the only point high enough for his phone to get reception. He retired late last year and is SO happy. Fortunately, for me the electronics were a way to spend maybe 10-15 minutes a day reading for info and heading off questions, so I knew I wouldn't have backlog when I got home. Other than that, when I was on vacation, I was on vacation and my employers appreciated my (minimal) accessibility.


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I also became a little cocky about people setting up meetings on any open spot on my Outlook calendar. I would reject the meeting with no comment or alternate time, which was essentially the Megacorp equivalent of GFY.

Wow- I wish I'd done that more often- especially to the people who booked meetings during times I already had blocked off for other things, without even asking/telling me. I sure don't miss that.
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Old 03-06-2015, 05:27 PM   #16
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I have a company mobile phone which is on from 9am-5pm only. I can always pick things up next day (bosses are not amused by this attitude).
Retired now, but I did the same thing when MegaMotors "gave" us all cell phones. I carried it with me at work and left it in my car when I got home.

This made my old boss very unhappy. If he is reading this right now - GFY!
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Old 03-07-2015, 01:15 AM   #17
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Yes connectivity does potentially add stress but IMO unless you are a doctor or someone else who needs to be on call for life and death type functions most people CHOOSE to be answering emails and calls at all hours. To those above who say that it was expected and so they did, did you consider what would happen if you did not? I have been working in a 24/7 environment for 25+ years (also manufacturing/engineering) and as these "intrusions" to my downtime came I simply refused to allow them to intrude. I would only make exceptions with certain people(since I knew they would only call in case of an absolute emergency) or under some very specific conditions, lines down that kind of thing but then we sometimes didnt go home anyways until things were under control. I always figured the worse thing that could happen was I'd get a poor review (tough to fire someone if you are already working 60+ hrs a week I think you might a case). When I went on vacation I also said who was my designate and that I would not be responding to emails until I got back. I didn't delete all old emails but I did archive all but the last few days. It has never had a negative effect. I am and have been considered a valuable employee with above average reviews so...Mind you I have never been working to become the next VP/CTO/CEO so that could be a difference. I have worked simply to fund my lifestyle and primarily my ER lifestyle (work to live not live to work). As a result I find work not very stressful in general and it takes me all of 20 minutes to unwind from a hard day. If no one is going to die because you didn't call in I think it is safe. At a lower level of importance, if production comes to a halt because you didn't well that sounds more like a training issue if you are the only one who can make the decision/fix the problem.

I think because so many people do the 24/7 it's thought of almost like boy scout badge...you have to earn to show you are a dedicated employee but it isn't really. Maybe we'll see stickers on the back of cars soon saying "My spouse was the employee of the month at Megacorp" :P

+2

My experience was exactly the same. Most of my coworkers would complain but never resist. I only made rare exceptions to my non-availability policy and it only cost me my job once (and I was going to quit anyway). Probably not advisable if you're (shudder) looking to climb the Megacorp career ladder, but I never was interested in that path.
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Old 03-07-2015, 06:52 AM   #18
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Badly designed or implemented tech causes stress.

Well designed and implemented tech relieves stress.
+1. Doesn't advancing technology always present us with new benefits and new challenges? Social media clearly has positives with trade offs. Internet connectivity positives with trade offs. Automobiles are a far more dangerous mode of transportation than horses, anyone think we should go back to riding horses? I am sure there were journalists a hundred plus years ago warning us that cars would be our downfall.

Any point of view that highlights only the bad or good side of technology advances may be incomplete.
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Old 03-07-2015, 07:04 AM   #19
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Working in tech, and working in the area of communications, I sometimes feel ashamed that my job could be as damaging as working on something like weaponry.

Although I see the fruits of my labors used to enhance life, I often see it used in ways described above, which concerns me, and is one reason I'm not long in this j*b.

As for myself, up until I fell onto this forum 3 years ago and realized I was basically FI, I was one of those a-holes who lived with an ethernet cord practically inserted directly into my skull. I answered emails at all times, all places. Then I had My Awakening, and just said Screw It.

I answer when I want to. I now chuckle at some coworkers. We recently got an email like this:
"I am away on vacation. I will be checking email every hour. If you don't get an immediate answer, it could be because I'm scuba diving. Don't worry, I'll get back to you."

It then listed about 4 alternative ways to get to them.

Seriously, are you that important to the world? To yourself? Get a life.
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Old 03-07-2015, 07:16 AM   #20
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Last employment was BCP (before cell phones), and only keep one in the glove compartment for emergencies, even now.

But, DS is a senior lawyer in a risk management firm, which services state governments. Decisions are time sensitive... sometimes within minutes, so even with an out-of-the-office message, the on-call status is critical, often to the tune of millions of dollars.

Ah, for the days of "Cher Ami". (1918)

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"Le Temps, c'est l'etoffe, dont la vie est fait"
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Sometimes it's very, very nice to be old.
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