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article imageTechnology is altering the work-life balance

By Tim Sandle     Aug 1, 2017 in Technology
Technology is not a neutral force. How it is used and applied has much to do with the intention of those who operate it. One area that causes consternation is how technology affects the work-life balance.
The use of technology to extend the working day is a topic that is receiving more attention these days. In a thought provoking article on LinkedIn, Jeff DeGraff a self-styled “Dean of Innovation, Author and Thought Leader” has explored this concept from the perspective of workplace digital transformation.
DeGraff highlights the current state of the ‘fourth industrial revolution’ or Industry 4.0. This phase that we are going through has been described by the World Economic Forum as “a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.”
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Technology and work have been infused with new and continually changing, disruptive changes. These include artificial intelligence; automated robotics and advanced manufacturing; pervasive digital networking (the “Internet of Things”); autonomous vehicles; 3D printing and additive manufacturing; “Big Data” analytics; nanotechnology; biotechnology; materials science; energy storage; and quantum computing (as Alan Mak, a U.K. government minister has summarized). These changes are altering the scale and scope of businesses, and creating a vast array of new offerings.
A Dutch court ordered Facebook to hand over personal details of a revenge porn suspect including ema...
A Dutch court ordered Facebook to hand over personal details of a revenge porn suspect including email address, mobile phone number and computer IP address
Karen Bleier, AFP/File
According to DeGraff a consequence of this transformative process is an ever-growing blurring between personal and professional life. He cites the following examples:
People can communicate in real time across the world via the web.
Translation apps and low-cost gadgets enable international communication.
Peer-to-peer social networking has democratized the workplace and changed where and how we work.
There are consequences with this trend, DeGraff notes. Since knowledge and information is less so in the hands of major corporations and more so with smaller enterprises and individuals, people are having less “in common with the larger community because we have less contact with it.” To a degree, as well as opening up the world, technology heralds feelings of alienation (where the worker is disconnected from their work and becomes dominated by the technology itself).
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There is also, DeGraff writes, an expectation that employees are available anytime. We can switch off the technology but we cannot switch of the expectation that we are available. This not only adds stresses, but is has altered the concept of time. There is less a notion of ‘the future’ as to the ‘now’, through an “accelerated sense of time and timing.” The digital transformation delivers as many benefits as ills, but there’s no escaping the social transformative effects that accompany the digital.
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