ON THE JOB by Nancy Clark

It’s either a marvelous new communications tool or it’s an addiction, what some wits refer to as the CrackBerry.

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BlackBerry does it for you but beware of the darkside
From SCAN's Print Edition

By the end of next month it’s expected there will be 14 million BlackBerry users worldwide, a total that even Research in Motion, maker of the ubiquitous device, didn’t expect so soon.
Some users swear by them and some observers swear at them. Like fine wine they can delight your senses or enslave you. It’s either a marvelous new communications tool or it’s an addiction, what some wits refer to as the CrackBerry.
Used appropriately, the BlackBerry is an excellent aid to help employees achieve work-life balance. It can free you from the office to tend to personal matters or provide an opportunity to get caught up on Email or make a call when you have a few idle moments. Addiction comes into play when it is used in excess.
Employees and employers should be concerned with work-life balance. Burnout caused by overwork and unchecked stress levels is experienced through all levels and sectors of the workforce, from bureaucracy to high tech. The accelerating pace of technology may actually take a toll on employees and negatively affect work-life balance. Addicted employees can have higher levels of sickness and personal life issues to contend with. For employers, any employee who is out of sync with his or her work-life balance can result in reduced productivity and creativity and affect the bottom line.

Try this simple quiz to see if there’s anything addictive in the way you use your BlackBerry.

01. Do you answer it in the bathroom?

There is really never a need to answer an Email or take a call when one is in the bathroom ─ ever. Even emergencies can wait until you’ve washed your hands.

02. Do you bring it with you on vacation (and remember to bring the charger)?

Taking a vacation is an absolute necessity to recharge, relax, clear your head from the pressures of work and, most importantly, to reconnect with friends and loved ones. Regularly checking for Emails or joining in conference calls while on holiday is counter-productive. You are not doing yourself or your employer any favours by not taking much-needed vacation breaks throughout the year.

03. Do you answer it during your lunch?

Undisturbed lunch breaks are the perfect opportunity in the middle of your workday to get proper nutrition and the mental break you need to energize you for the second half of the day.

04. Do you consider it a fashion accessory?

The TV-show wardrobe guide What Not to Wear does not approve of the BlackBerry as a fashion accessory, even with the colour options now available – hosts Stacey London and Clinton Kelly say no!

05. Do you keep it with you 24/7?

It’s OK to turn off your BlackBerry at night and on the weekends. At a minimum, turn it off when you go to bed.

06. Is it the first thing you do when you get up in the morning?

It’s bad enough to wake up to an alarm clock in the morning. There is no need to hear the mellow buzzing of incoming Email as well.

07. Do you cry out when you accidentally drop it?

Feeling the pain when you accidentally drop your BlackBerry indicates how attached you are to it. Think of the bumps and bruises as signs of aging and remember the BlackBerry does not actually have feelings.

08. Do you check it during meetings?

Checking Emails or taking calls during meetings is really unacceptable behaviour. Employees should stay focused to maximize meeting effectiveness.

09. Do you know when the next upgrade is expected?

If you know when the next upgrade is expected from RIM you really are a diehard.

10. Does your significant other complain about it?

If your SO feels you spend more quality time with your BlackBerry than with him or her you must really consider its impact on your life.

You’re not alone if you’re abusing the use of your BlackBerry. Overuse has become quite a widespread issue across corporations. When you put a few limits in place, you and your employer will be grateful that you’re taking better care of yourself.

Nancy Clark, president and CEO of Enavance Consulting Inc., is an HR development professional who has been through every mill from the explosive growth of JDS Uniphase in the late '90s to a government agency in reorg mode, with stops at Marconi, Iogen and other hot spots in between. She can be reached at nancy_clark@primus.ca

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