In a previous post, A Permanent Work in Progress, I mentioned in passing the notion of the line between work and home becoming more blurred:
"However, this potential 'omniweb' may not be such a great thing for those of us who like having some boundaries between our work and time off. I can't help but fear that someday 'not having access to my email' or 'not being in cellphone range' might not be valid reasons to not work while on vacation, or that no matter where I am in the world, I might be easily findable. I also wouldn't mind being able to escape from the ubiquity of technology every now and then, either, but from the looks of things this is going to only become more difficult."
Recently, though, the Australian government halted plans to deploy BlackBerries to its workers
after employees expressed fears that the devices might upset their
current balance of work and home life. It seems that the BlackBerry has
polarized at least two groups of differing opinion; the first feeling
that BlackBerries would make the work day longer since they extend
workstation functionality outside of the office, while the second group
felt that in doing so it allowed for greater flexibility for schedules
Personally, I can relate to both perspectives. Having a BlackBerry allows for work-related travel while still keeping up with the 150-200 emails I might receive from co-workers and clients a day. This is great since there is nothing worse than returning after traveling for work to a bottomless inbox. However, it's also tempting to want to respond to email after hours, too. Every time my BlackBerry starts blinking after hours, I have to resist the inclination to open it up and deal with whatever messages are there, rather then let them pile up for the morning. I think the key is just being able to turn the thing off, though the cut off point is really up to your individual discretion, and the requirements of your job.
Do you feel that having a BlackBerry (or comparable device) has eroded your boundaries?
Update: 01/09/2008: Rae at BBGeeks posted an editorial after I "tweeted" a question: "Does your BlackBerry rule your life" and linked to this post. Her editorial here.
02/27/2008: Paul Kedrosky writes "I couldn't help but notice some bearded guy to Ben's (Bernanke) right who was a certifiable Crackberry addict. He was typing up a storm in his lap, showing incoming emails to other people, and generally out of control with email, and ignoring Big Ben."