The Ups and Downs of Always Being Connected

With benefits and advantages come pitfalls. That's as true for telecommuting as for any other business practice. One of the pitfalls telecommuting experts warn against is the inability of those who work at home to "shut it off" and not feel the necessity of being constantly on the job. That pitfall has become magnified because the technology exists to remain "connected" at all times.

Mobility at a Price
Today's workforce may be more mobile than ever -- thanks to the proliferation of wireless computing, PDAs, and access to e-mail from anywhere at any time. However, that mobility comes at a price, and the price is the feeling of being on a "leash". So writes Brian McDonough at Even when on vacation, workers -- be they office workers or teleworkers -- are increasingly feeling the need to check their e-mail and check in with the office.

Gartner Study Confirms a Problem Exists
McDonough cites a recent Gartner survey, which found the following:

The Psychology of Always-on Connectivity
McDonough's article cites psychologist, Martin Factor, who says that "always-on connectivity may create anxiety when we e-mail piles up, the simple dread of wading through that in-basket can lead off-duty employees to check in."
Maureen Caplan Grey, a senior research analyst for Gartner, says that "e-mail has become the corporate security blanket of this decade. The thought of communication happening without our knowledge keeps us tethered to the workplace." The problem, according to Grey, is the potential of burnout on the part of workers who can't get away from work, even when on vacation.

While the studies and expert opinions cited in the McDonough article were largely in reference to what workers do on vacation and away from the job, the case could be made that teleworkers are subject to the same pressures, as their link to the office is always staring them at the fact in their home-based office, whether they are on officially on the clock or not.