Balancing Act: There's no end to the workday
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For Mario Contreras, putting in eight hours at the office is just the beginning of his workday. After he eats with his kids and puts them to bed, Mr. Contreras heads over to his laptop and shoots off emails or resolves a concern with his construction crew. The night might end hours later when he finally slips into bed.
Mr. Contreras, the owner of 27 Charley's Grilled Subs, said that as he opens new restaurant locations worldwide, his workload stretches as do his work hours. In the evening, he connects with people all over the country and the world who are designing and building his new restaurants. "I find you just can't clock out anymore."
Today, only 11 percent of professionals globally say they have accomplished all the tasks they planned to do by the end of an average workday, according to a study by LinkedIn. The smartphone, the laptop and the tablet allow workers to be more connected than ever before, and that makes it tempting to reconnect with work from home at night. Workplace experts are grappling with whether workers are burning the midnight oil by need or by choice and if the pace is sustainable.
"Today, jobs are more precious, and the economy has driven that home," said Tim Geisert, chief marketing officer for Kenexa, a global recruiting and leadership development firm. "That has made people more willing to put in discretionary effort."
Some late-nighters say it's daytime distractions that lead to evening hours -- the meetings, the phone calls, the people who barge into your cubicle. "Nighttime is my think time. I save emails that take more thought and do that at night," Mr. Geisert explained. "I find online conversations at night are more fruitful."
Of course, the ease of working at night may have turned it into a habit that may need to be curbed.
"Challenge yourself," said Laura Vanderkam, author of "168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think." "For two nights a week, force yourself to do something other than work, something to maintain your personal life."
First Published June 17, 2012 12:00 am