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Monthly Business e-Tips Vol 7
Issue 6

Always Connected: Best for Business?

"Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present." - Albert Camus

With today's technology, one can be constantly available and expect the same of others. Day or night, for work or leisure, you can stay connected with everyone. Positively, technology lends a safety net for pressing issues and allows us to take care of a crisis virtually. We're also able to check on projects and orders while traveling. With all the amazing accessibility technology offers us, there are also resulting challenges.

When closing on our new home, our realtor delayed the attorneys' negotiations and held up our transaction by taking three cellphone calls during the proceedings. While supervising our cabinet installation, the kitchen design owner spent 70 minutes on the phone with his attorney. During a recent workshop, two attendees sitting next to me were reading and sending e-mails on their BlackBerry phones during the presentation. All of these situations left a negative impression.

The "always on" phenomenon can create negative side effects that are often overlooked. Be aware of these common pitfalls and avoid potentially embarrassing situations:

  • Interrupts attention: The call or e-mail you are responding to can make the people you're meeting with feel neglected and unimportant. Whether they admit it or not, disruption annoys most people.
  • Reduces productivity. Stopping and starting work breaks concentration. It takes time to refocus and decreases productivity.
  • Causes resentment in the workplace. Outside of emergencies or the occasional crunch time, time away from work should be respected, if not, your employees will be resentful and potentially unproductive.
  • Respect your own work/life balance. Family and friends, including yourself, need time and attention. Although it's a challenge, focus on your personal needs and relationships in order to create harmony in both facets of your life.
There are ways to handle an "on-call" environment. Remember these key points to use technology with professionalism.

  • Don't be distracted. Be present 100% all of the time.
  • Inform team members or client in advance. If you are expecting an urgent call, let them know you might be interrupted. Take only that call and make it short.
  • Define your boundaries. Be clear about the hours you are available by phone or e-mail. Let people know where the line is. The more slack you give, the more is taken.

Remember, you are in control, not technology. Be responsive, be reasonable, but most of all be respectful… Oh, excuse me, my cellphone is ringing. We'll talk next month.

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