Use technology to work when you need to and enjoy the holidays more
As a successful technology entrepreneur, I have earned the freedom to make some choices.
I choose to live less than two miles from the office on the West shore of the Hudson. Across the river, mid-town Manhattan soars skyward.
I keep my daily routine flexible. Since I choose not to own a luxury automobile, I walk home when I’m no longer needed in the office, get a lift from my wife-about-town in her smart car, or call a cab. We choose to eat dinner out or cook and enjoy the view from our tenth floor residence.
After dinner, I sometimes take my boys and the dog on a stroll around the waterfront. As I enjoy the pleasant surroundings, I may choose to take important calls from employees and customers. Others I ignore.
My work follows me everywhere. Today’s technology makes all of it available to me on all of my Windows 10 devices. But, I can still choose when to engage.
Likewise, the technology gives me more freedom to attend to personal and family needs during traditional office hours. Since I’m often working at home, it doesn’t bother me to take a break from work at the office. In fact, I believe that I am more productive because I do.
Technology and Balance
We can do amazing, very productive things with technology, (I’m in the business of helping other entrepreneurs do just that). The devices we carry around instantly connect us to our email, projects and resources… and to our family and friends. We can do so much. So how does technology empower us to make the most of our work and the rest of life?
First we need to be honest about the fact that we are never “not working”. At eMazzanti Technologies, many of our clients are retail. This is one of the busiest times of year for them. They need to know that we are there for them providing the best service possible.
The latest technology, including powerful software like Windows 8, allows us to be on at all times and that is what clients and end users expect of us.
Customers are always going to be a high priority. But, we don’t have to resent the fact that we are “always on”. Technology also empowers us to balance our priorities and our lives, if in non-traditional ways.
Since our devices and the cloud allow us to work from anywhere, we can be smart about when we work and when we devote ourselves to family, fitness and other pursuits. Doing so provides some nice benefits.
Flexible Schedules and Productivity
As Americans, we take pride in working hard and sacrificing to achieve a goal. Several studies have found that employees are motivated to work harder, achieve better results and also become more loyal when they have some control over their schedules.
When I have some schedule flexibility, I can work during the hours when I am most productive instead of during a pre-defined work day. For some people, this may be the early morning, or late at night. Regardless of the time, I work more intensely knowing that it’s my choice and that I’m doing what’s most important at the moment.
According to other recent studies, “workplace flexibility has been linked with a host of positive well-being outcomes, including higher job satisfaction, lower stress, and reduced work-family conflict,” (Ron Friedman, www.cnn.com, 12/9/14).
So, we are better off when we integrate work and life in ways that empower us to succeed at both. By making both our work and other pursuits more accessible, technology makes it possible.
Also interesting is research showing that downtime increases productivity at work. “Studies show that performance increases after breaks of all durations: from extended vacations down to microbreaks of 30 seconds,” (Entrepreneur, October, 2014).
By mixing up work and other interests we get more breaks and can be more productive when we are working. I can feel good about taking a break from work to attend the school Christmas play or to shop for a few more gifts.
The need for connection is well-documented. We must have it to maintain our health and sanity. Again, how we choose to use technology can strengthen our connections. Staying connected to family and friends, regardless of the distance between us, has never been easier.
And, emotional connection or attachment affects leadership. “Securely attached leaders are excellent mentors. They can address problems within the company without attacking employees; they can solve issues by using a team approach,” (HR.BLR.com).
Holiday Technology Choices
The research on flexible schedules, connection and down time makes my holiday technology choices easier. When I choose to answer the phone, read my email or catch up on work at home, I can feel good knowing that I’m being productive and taking care of customers.
And when I also take time away from the office to go shopping with my wife or take the kids to see a movie because we can match our schedules, I know that I’m choosing connection, downtime and increased productivity.
There are other holiday technology choices with excellent outcomes. I can use it in the obvious ways to connect with friends and family who are far away. I can use it to connect with those who are right there in the room by experiencing a game or sharing an online discovery with a spouse or child.
The best choices will vary depending on the circumstances. I may choose to take a critical call from a vendor in China during Christmas dinner. It may be the most important thing at the moment (my wife, who is also my business partner, may even encourage me to do it).
Choose a Happy and Productive Holiday
Knowing how to use technology to improve my life and my performance, I can choose to work when I need to and still give my family more of my attention. I’ll get recharged when I take breaks and perhaps even set an example of balance for my employees. When I’m in the office, I can hit it hard and accomplish a lot knowing that I can leave when I’m needed more elsewhere.
So, this holiday season I hope that you use your hard-won entrepreneurial freedom to choose a technology win-win. You can enjoy the holidays, work hard, strengthen connections, take some down time and increase productivity all at once.
Carl Mazzanti is CEO of eMazzanti Technologies, 2012, 2013 & 2015 Microsoft Partner of the Year and a NYC area IT consultant.