In a recent survey we asked the following question. Do you answer work emails outside of your normal working hours? 66% said regularly, 29% only to urgent issues and 5% never.

Sitting on the 5.47am train to London, checking, deleting and responding to the various emails that came through since I last looked at 10.00pm the night before, it dawned on me that I was no different to 95% of our clients who check emails outside of the normal working hours – appreciating that “normal working hours” is getting somewhat blurred.

However, after my early am caffeine fix, it got me thinking; with developments in technology, am I being more efficient and effective or have I become sucked into the culture of immediacy equals professionalism.

Typing into google “technology aids in the workplace” generated 7,730,000 results and I was interested to see what some of them were saying and having researched a few, came to my own conclusion.

There is some really clever stuff out there from Collokia – a machine learning platform that improves productivity and collaboration through to Skarpline – which eliminates the need for email attachments. All of these, if you believe the marketing, could allow employees, regardless of their position in an organisation or the size of the organisation, to be more efficient and effective.

Efficient and effective, efficient and effective… are there 2 bigger buzzwords in business in the last decade. They used to be words associated with machines and it feels like this is what we are becoming in business – mass producing, speed of lightening replying email machines.

In the mid 90’s, with the introduction of Blackberrys, every director and CEO was clamouring to get one from their IT department.  They were a status symbol; a sign you had made it to a level where you were so integral to an organisation that you had to be contactable 24 hours a day.  As with most status symbols the idea of having it is more important than why you have it and now every mid level manager is issued a work mobile on the first day so they are plugged into the matrix.

Before you embark in investing in new technology, think about what is driving you or your organisation to use it. I say this because in my opinion, the technology will only be as good as the attitude behind it.

If the culture of an organisation is that it is expected that people need to be on 24/7 availability, there is a danger of exposing their employees to burn out as they spend more time “doing stuff” with little or no real quality down time.

I don’t know if this is a culture that needs to change or will change, it seems like this is the direction the business world is heading but after writing this article and being introspective of how I manage my day, I know I will be taking back a little more time in the mornings for me. The phone will be firmly in my pocket and that Graham Greene book I keep meaning to read will be firmly in my hand.