Each day we leave our workplace, yet keep on thinking about the events of the day, the conversations we had, the unfinished agenda, the reactions of people and various such scenarios. After work hours, we do check our emails, answer messages, make work-related phone calls. Do we really check out of work? Most of us do not.
Some ask what the harm is if someone stays immersed in work all the time. We know of personalities like Albert Einstein and Archimedes who were obsessed with what they did and delivered outstanding results to be known as the great men for generations. By this argument, there is no harm staying obsessed with work.
As long as the obsession with work is in the spirit of discovering new vistas, bringing up new ideas that can positively impact the world, it makes perfect sense. This kind of incessant immersion is not for making financial gains, defeating someone else or proving someone wrong. Rather, this creates a drive, energy and enthusiasm; builds commitment and fuels determination to scale new heights.
Such people spread positivity at work and become examples. However, their attentiveness and care towards their family and friends is often not the best. They experience mild to bothersome levels of tension at home. Yet they tend to prioritise their passion over the social and familial commitments. Folks passionate about their work are always checked-in and are happy being so. Their inner circle of influencers must be compassionate and help them achieve greatness in their chosen area of interest.
We cannot expect every individual in a team to be passionate about their work equally and stay immersed in work 24×7. There are many people in a team who love what they do, the team, the environment; they see a future for them in the organisation and want to pursue it. These are the committed minds we are talking about. For an organisation to progress, we need more and more of such minds.
We have to ensure, these minds are nurtured well so that they can perform at their best. For employees to do well, negative elements of stress have to be removed as much as practicable.
One of the major reasons behind the ‘always checked-in’ syndrome is the stress in employees’ minds due to over-analyses of who said what and gossips around these. Establishing and practising an open, transparent, honest and meritocratic work environment is the most crucial cog in the wheel. The culture in the organisation has to be such that employees get updates transparently from their supervisors and leaders directly on a timely manner; they must experience their bosses take decisions based on facts rather than on perception or instructions from somewhere else. This helps employees stay focused on facts and performance rather than managing impressions and spending too much time interpreting words and actions of others. Committed minds can be nurtured well in such an environment!
Few brass tacks
All of us have our own limitations; anxiety of a certain kind leads people to stay checked in; sometimes, it’s lack of active engagement outside work pushes people to keep connecting with work. In any case, it’s not helpful for the organisation to get tired and wearied minds to work. One has to be physically and mentally fresh to start a new day. Like sleep is essential for starting a new day, disengagement from work for a few hours is essential for starting a fresh day at work.
We have to encourage our employees to do whatever interests them and excel there too. Our recognition programmes should transcend the borders of work and include all other things that our people hold interest in. The supervisors and managers must accept the fact that staying always-on is not essential for the success of their team; they should not expect instant replies to their messages and perpetrate a sense of crisis mindset in their team. While bias for action is a virtue of leaders in most business scenarios, some of them misconstrue it to be sending and receiving messages. People could be busy but not making progress.
Old practices around planning and organising have rightfully changed due to the advent of smartphones, an array of tech tools and social media. However, sometimes, we find ourselves entangled in a myriad of issues leading to lack of focus and planning. One is often left with the feeling of incomplete and unfulfilled. We need tweaking in our work habits to get better-organized, say ‘no’ to some requests, prioritise better and set expectations in a pragmatic way.
We cannot be in a state of checked-in all the time and chase outcomes. We need to take breaks and plan better. Exceptions are the people who are always working and at the same time are enjoying their work as if they are on a long vacation.