Hold That Vacation, I Have to Take This Call

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By Alexa Davis, guest writer.

When someone takes a day off, it should be an actual day off, not a day off with the possibility of still being called into work.  A day off should be a period of time where you can’t be reached by your annoying supervisors or the person who said they’d take your shift, but didn’t because they forgot and took their day off instead.

There have been days when my dad has taken the day off from work to help my mom out because she has to work all day or is so busy with our crazy lives that she isn’t able to handle it all at the moment. Some days off are even just to be with the family because family time becomes scarce when you are on the crazy train of life.

Despite him asking, and then eventually saying, “I’m taking the day off.” He comes home with his work laptop, sits down at our foyer table, and punches away at the keys of his laptop in order to make sure his work world won’t fall apart for a day. Though, he is still required to be on call or working.  Just because he can do it at home in his pajamas doesn’t mean it’s a day off.

There have been mornings when my dad has gotten up at 5 a.m. so he can get ready and work extra before he goes to work. Then, there have been other mornings when he has been so tired that he hits the off button to his alarm because he just needs the sleep.

The world of technology and constant communication can be great, don’t get me wrong, on that piece.  It is nice to be able to pick up the phone and call my best friend when I’m having just one of those days, or order my Chinese dinner via text or call so I don’t have to get off the couch, pause my show, and change out of my pj’s to go get it.

Despite all of wonderful communication today’s technology includes, I consider it a double-edged sword. Although I am able to be in contact with someone at all times, that means I can be contacted at any time as well. When it comes to employment that means anyone can be called into work or told to get something done at any point.  My day off is not really a day of relaxation filled with that long needed spa trip that was planned a month ago, or the Netflix binge and junk food party I decided to throw myself.

Instead, anyone working has to be constantly checking  emails and text messages while listening to make sure a call wasn’t missed, to ensure that no one has to be called back into work or told this needs to be done by tomorrow. Missing that call could mean losing a job.

With this dilemma of constant communication you are expected to pick up your work calls at any point in the day, no matter the time or if you aren’t on the clock.  This interferes so much with personal time and family life that it becomes almost ridiculous.

“As a result of being pulled so strongly into work matters, a phenomenon has developed where family life falls by the wayside,” said Kathryn Adams, a marketing manager.

An imbalance between family and work is created, causing all sorts of family relationship problems. All of a sudden, shipping out that work order that you have been called to do has come before your son’s soccer game because unfortunately the U-12 soccer game doesn’t pay the bills.

While it is known that having personal technology provided by your job has helped to improve the efficiency and productivity of a company significantly, it is also connected to causing burnout and higher levels of exhaustion in workers because their attention is constantly required. Instead of now working the typical nine to five day and, around a 40 hour week, that number has increased to around 47 hours worth of work service. That’s a full extra day of working.

“Many employees are feeling overworked and burnt out to the point of physical consequences,” said Jenni Chelenyak from the website Adecco.

The article explains some of the consequences due to the unofficially extended work hours. Weight gain, mental breakdowns, depression and lack of sleep were all included.

While Excel can speed up the process of calculating prices of  shipping orders and also provide a higher productivity rate, it doesn’t change the fact that there are always more numbers for to type in every day. Workers are expected to get as much as they can done in the span of 24 hours, not between nine and five, but in 24 hours.

If someone wanted to talk their supervisor all the time then they would pick up the phone and talk to him or her, but most don’t. Besides, that’s not what many signed up for at all.  Nowhere in most job descriptions does it say, “Your presence is required at all times.” If no one signed up to work 24/7, then they shouldn’t be expected to.

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