There are countless articles out there that vilify the pervasiveness of technology in our lives. Modern technologies, it seems, has succeeded in eroding the barrier between work and personal life. Contemporary workers are always “on,” attached by wireless umbilical cords to their various devices. You can respond to your boss’s email via your car’s voice recognition software. Need an immediate answer from a colleague? Shoot him a quick text. Yes, you can lead the WebEx while you’re on vacation; no problem.
If you allow it, technology can disrupt your life balance. But you can use it to your advantage to enable more balance than a traditional workplace. The biggest advantage by far is that technology enables workers to work from anywhere, at any time. When a big project is due in the morning, the team needn’t stay at the office until midnight. You can go home, have dinner with your family, read your children their bedtime stories, and then work on the project. You need to take your kid to the orthodontist, and the only available appointment is at 11 AM on Tuesday? No problem. Work from home, and work around the appointment.
Beyond the familiar ways in which technology enables personal freedom, are more extreme examples such as the emergence of the digital nomad. “Digital nomads” are mostly digital natives who travel the world and work from wherever they happen to be decamped. Digital nomads are people who prize the experience of traveling the world and meeting different people over that of climbing a corporate ladder. (I think of them as Next Gen European backpackers.) Of course, nomads, like the rest of us, still need to earn a living. Technology allows them to do that while pursuing their primary goal of experiential learning.
The digital age has made us realize that it is antiquated to think of work and our personal lives as two separate things we can place on a scale. Instead of trying to balance work and life on opposite sides of the scale, we should aim for integration. We can leverage modern technologies to create a sense of harmony.
Window offices, assistants, and leather chairs are quickly becoming things of the past. With new technologies, we can work from anywhere, and do so more efficiently. Efficiency is something that the arguments against technology rarely bring up. Digital storage options reduce clutter. Digital solutions can eliminate redundancies and improve speed. Tasks that can be automated are being automated, allowing workers to free their minds to focus on pet projects, or on family and friends. Don’t be afraid of embracing technology. Be prepared to manage it, and to use it to your advantage.