Constant contact - What is the reality?

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How we work and communicate has changed radically in recent years, with significant numbers across society, including within the project management profession, now using devices that mean we can be in contact and carrying out work and other activities, 24/7, instantly and unrelentingly.

Recent research by the CMI  states;

Of the 76% of managers who can use devices including smartphones, laptops or tablets to work, almost half (49%) check their emails just before going to sleep at night and a quarter (24%) check them again on waking before they get out of bed in the morning.

Earlier this month a news story described a society addicted to behaviour of checking phones and devices - regardless of other activities and company.  And in the last few days the indication that the riots in the UK were linked to the use of instant messaging  to spread information and incite violence.  

But is there an even more insidious impact that touches all of us who manage staff and are in employment ourselves.  What is the effect of this new and accepted way of behaving, on individuals, for organisations and for successful project delivery?  For instance:

  • What are the implications for project delivery, in a world where there are blurred boundaries between work and non work environments?  
  • What do we need to do to be able to effectively manage and communicate with staff and colleagues who inhabit both work and non-work worlds simultaneously?  For example the impact of omnipresent media during the working day keeping us informed of breaking news, or distracting us from our working contract?
  • What are the risks to our well-being of not being able to switch off, or maybe more concerning, of being expected NOT to switch off from our work commitments?  

Just a thought while we may still have a chance to recognise what is happening, and maybe take action, before its too late.

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Posted by Jane Royden on 17th Aug 2011

About the Author
Since 2002, as a Director of E AND H, I’ve been involved with a range of projects, management roles and change programmes. We provide support to a range of organisations mainly in the public sector in the UK. Every day is different - new projects and new people, but often the same issues. My specialist field is in coaching and mentoring in the context of programme, project and change management. I’m a member of the APM People SIG and have been involved with the successful APM mentoring pilot scheme. I'm interested in identifying the sort of things that give us confidence as project, programme and change managers. What really makes the difference to our outlook, how we feel and ultimately what we deliver?

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