6 min read
This story originally appeared on Foro Económico Mundial
- The Myers-Briggs company says that a 24/7 work culture can be both good and bad for us.
- There are potentially serious consequences for well-being.
- Employers need to help their staff find a balance.
If our smartphones and other devices are always “on”, it means that we are too.
This is a double-edged sword, according to the Myers-Briggs company, a company specializing in business psychology.
“Services and information are available 24/7 and we can connect anytime, anywhere in the world,” says the company in its research study, Type and the always-on culture .
“However, when our smartphones are always close at hand and ‘on’, it can be difficult for us to ‘turn them off’. This is the ‘always on’ culture.”
The advantages of always being
Image: The Myers-Briggs Company
It’s good and bad
Being always connected acts as a facilitator and a stressor, with “some potentially serious consequences for individual well-being,” Myers-Briggs finds.
“This suggests that organizations will benefit from exploring how to help individuals find the sweet spot between using technology to increase engagement and flexibility,” says study co-author John Hackston, head of thought leadership at The Myers-Briggs Company.
“And not letting technology take over to the point of causing negative effects.”
The study was published in December 2019 before the coronavirus pandemic occurred, but it highlights a dilemma that has become increasingly prevalent in the world of work from COVID-19.
Myers-Briggs surveyed more than 1,000 people to understand the role of personality in managing old culture. Key results include:
- People who were able to access work emails / calls outside of work were more engaged in their work, but also more stressed.
- Those who had a hard time disconnecting suffered from a host of negative issues, including stress, interference with family life, and an inability to focus on just one thing at a time.
- People mentioned the disadvantages of the always-in-touch culture more than the advantages.
Disadvantages of always being online include stress / Image: The Myers-Briggs Company
Why Personality Matters
Personality also played a role: those who were more practical and structured had a greater desire to keep home and work separate and experienced more stress related to being always on, compared to those who were more focused and flexible.
Extraverted types were more likely to have a smartphone or laptop at work than those who preferred introversion.
Strategies for managing being always on include turning off phones and notifications; setting aside time for work and family, as well as letting others know when you will and will not be available.
There are different strategies to handle it / Image: The Myers-Briggs company
“People around the world want more flexibility in where and how they work,” say the authors.
The majority of the 9,000 knowledge workers surveyed (72%) would prefer a mix of remote and office work, a hybrid approach. Slack defines a knowledge worker as anyone who occupies an office role and / or works with data, analyzes information, or thinks creatively during a typical work week.
We are generally happier
Telecommuting is a net positive and scores higher than office work for work-life balance, stress and anxiety levels, productivity, and overall satisfaction.
“Workers’ sense of belonging can suffer while working remotely,” the report adds, suggesting that employers should think about working differently by investing in a virtual office, more flexible work hours and “asynchronous” communication tools.
For example, instead of real-time video calls, asynchronous tools like messaging apps or project management tools allow people to connect at their own convenience and schedule.
The World Economic Forum Restart Work Summit, to be held October 20-23, 2020, is bringing leaders together to shape a new agenda for growth, jobs, skills and equity.
The four-day program includes sessions on A New Vision of Occupational Health and Valuing Online Learning for the Workplace.
As The Myers-Briggs Company discovered, it will be up to both employers and employees to ensure that people can unplug and maintain a mental health balance in the future world of work.