Open all hours

You might think that skiing is one activity where people would leave their mobiles in their pocket, at least till they’re off piste.  You would be wrong.  On closer inspection many skiers are using the same ‘hands free’ technology you might use in a car – under their ski helmet!

In a technology enabled world it’s easy to be available 24/7 and in some organisations or areas it’s an expectation.  Within public relations and communications arena it tends to go with the territory.  In a recent PR Week feature, Ann-Marie Thompson, International Head of Media at the Entertainment Company Syco describes a quality she prizes in new recruits as “that they are contactable 24/7/365”.  While Syco represents X Factor and a number of celebrity clients with global schedules is this really reasonable?

Senior managers in any organisation with a certain level of responsibility and authority should be contactable if necessary and let’s face it their salary generally reflects that.  People who run their own business could be considered another justifiable group.  Is it a reasonable expectation for new recruits?  Has the culture within the communications industry to work more than your contracted number of hours become so standard, particularly within the private sector that we no longer bat an eyelid?  Or maybe a culture shift can be attributed to the accessibility of mobile technology, because we can be contacted socially, we are therefore contactable.  I wonder what Johnson and Scholes would say?

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7 Responses to Open all hours

  1. Changing roles last year meant that I no longer needed to take part in the PR on-call rota. Of course, in the event of a major incident I will be called as a senior manager, and am prepared to be contacted and go in if required. In fact, I have been contacted out of hours. But getting my own personal phone and deciding when to have it switched on felt like freedom from tyranny! I think there is a balance to be had: we all have lives out of work after all. And surely holidays are meant to allow us to recharge our batteries so that we return to work full of renewed energy and vigour?

  2. Anne says:

    Corinne – you are right that a work/life balance is important and generally things do seem to balance themselves out. Like you I have had responsibility for crisis communication and accepted being on call as part of that responsibility. Equally I have been called at home on a day off for absolute trivia as opposed to a business critical decision. Something that I am not sure would have had happened so readily even a few years ago.

  3. Carol Fox says:

    Sadly, we are all tempted to be available at all times, even when it ISN’T reflected in our salaries. It is good to get into the habit of switching off and not checking e-mail when you shouldn’t have to. Restricting your personal mobile number is a good way of keeping some privacy, but increasingly it is compulsory to disclose it in lots of forms/instances – I object! I should have control over my own time and privacy!

  4. Claire Farfield says:

    My job is pretty easy going and in no way am I expected to be available late on a weeknight or weekends. I really appreciate this, I do sometimes think about work outside of work but that is voluntary, and I wouldn’t object to working those extra hours every now and then either, but it would be easy to plan it in. I wouldn’t get called on a random saturday morning. People at work don’t have my personal number except HR and my line manage. My partner on the other hand is the polar opposite whereby he is expected to give out his personal mobile number to any colleague. Life is too short for it to be shortened further by an out of balance life, man! My comment doesn’t really answer any of your blog questions Anne but there we go.

    • Anne says:

      Hi Claire
      I disagree your comment perfectly illustrates that different cultures/sectors reflect different working practices. Particularly that different sectors have different expections of employees and their availability. I hope his salary reflects his commitment.

  5. Melanie Thompson says:

    My job is great; when I am at work I am at work, when I am at home I am not at work. It really depends on your job and your employer I suppose. I havent had any experience of having to be available all the time. Perhaps I am lucky! : )


  6. Judge Jon says:

    The thing is if you make yourself unavailable you are often only putting off what you have to deal with the next day. When it could just be down and dusted. I don’t have a problem with people phoning me anytime.

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