Have you ever read something in the newspaper that, literally, made you burst out in laughter? You know, the kind of laughter that could best be described as the verbal equivalent of, "really? this is what you're thinking?"
In the Montreal Gazette today, I almost passed over a small news item in the Business section titled, Call Is Out For BlackBerry Pay. Here's the gist: Canadian bureaucrats' are using their BlackBerry devices beyond office hours so often that their union is asking for extra wages. Makes perfect sense, right? If you're connected 24/7, you should be paid accordingly.
Here's a quote from this article:
"We have old clauses in our collective agreement that cover standby pay, but these clauses have to be updated because these devices have changed the definition of work and being called after-hours. If you have a BlackBerry, you are essentially available 24 hours, seven days per week. If you want that degree of availability, you have to pay people for it." - Ed Cashman, regional Vice-President of the Public Service Alliance of Canada.
I have two simple solutions that won't cost us taxpayers any money in additional wages or changing the collective agreement:
1. After 5 pm (or whenever the work day ends), they can turn the BlackBerry off.
2. Force all Canadian bureaucrats to give back their BlackBerry devices. Should anyone need to contact them off hours, they can call them at home (like in the good ole' days).
I get asked similar questions often: "how do you read all this stuff?", "when do you sleep?", "how do you answer emails so fast?"
The answer is simple (and it will work for the Government too): I manage my technology - I don't let my technology manage me (feel free to re-read that statement). My BlackBerry is a great example. I have it set to silent vibrate for the phone part only. How do I know when new email arrives? I don't. I look when I choose to. Just like if I don't feel like answering a call, I hit "ignore," or I'll let it go to my voice mail. I know my priorities. I know what I need to accomplish in the day. What if it's an emergency? I think we all know the answer to that: everyone can be found (to some degree).
Why stop at BlackBerries? What about mobile phones, pagers, giving out your home number, mail, etc...?
I think the Government needs to understand something bigger: we're in a different world. This is a world about being connected by choice. Can you imagine trying to get a job in the modern workplace, and telling a potential employer that you prefer to not be contacted outside of regular office hours, and that includes emails and phone calls? What kind of work environment does that look like?
Man, BlackBerry could not pay for this type of cool Marketing and PR.