Technology's Impact on Work-Life Balance

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There are very few parts of life that remain untouched by technology in one way or another. From medicine to autonomous cars, we're advancing at breakneck speed, and in many ways, our lives are greatly improved because of it.

In the workplace, advances in technology allow us to work in new ways that weren't possible in the past. Constraints, like location, have become more of a non-issue, and we are more connected to the office than ever before. However, when it comes to balancing those capabilities with our personal lives, it presents several pros and cons for work-life balance.

We're always accessible

With an entire suite of communication tools found on a single, pocket-sized device, it’s easier than ever to get in touch with just about anyone these days, no matter where in the world they may be. And that includes your boss or employees. According to a Workplace Trends study, “65% of employees say that their managers expect them to be reachable outside of the office.” However, such easy accessibility, when taken advantage of, often comes at the expense of work-life balance.

The key is to set boundaries and expectations to find a happy medium. Easier accessibility isn’t always a bad thing. Smartphones have become a communications hub, and research from Accenture found that 77% of professionals believe such technology enables them to have more flexibility in their schedules.

It’s easier to work remotely

Technology that helps make us more accessible has also made it easier for many employees to work remotely—an organizational structure that has only increased in popularity in recent years. Working from home, a coffee shop, or on the road is commonplace for many companies, and according to the Workplace Trends study, such arrangements are being more openly embraced by employers because of benefits including improved employee satisfaction, greater productivity, and increased retention.

Of course, the ability to do many jobs from anywhere there’s an internet connection or phone signal also makes it easier for work to intrude upon personal lives. Research from Accenture found that 75% of professionals report they work “frequently” or “occasionally” during paid time off, which can significantly affect work-life balance. 

So, despite mounting deadlines and work commitments that show little mercy, it’s important to learn how to draw a line between where the office ends and personal life begins.

We’re becoming more efficient

Advances in technology are also making the workplace more efficient. From time-saving apps to digital storage options that help reduce clutter, workplaces are adapting in ways that let employees make better use of their time. Many everyday tasks are being automated, leading to increased efficiency that allows us to work smarter and focus attention on the most important aspects of work while getting rid of redundancies and wasted effort. And with better efficiency comes more time to devote to passion projects, take a vacation, or spend time with friends and family.

We’re getting more done than ever before, but it’s getting done in a way that also helps enhance work-life balance.

But, only time will tell what the workplace of the future will look like as technology continues to advance and our work and personal lives become even more entwined. Regardless, it’s a pretty safe bet the ongoing struggle of finding work-life balance will always be a priority.

Alyssa Chumbley is vice president of Express Employment Professionals.

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