BlackBerrys and PDAs bad for work/life balance?

On in the past week there was an interesting article about the impact of Blackberry and PDA devices on Work/Life Balance. 

All of’s 12-strong CIO Jury IT user panel agreed BlackBerrys and smart phones have improved their productivity but warned it can have a negative impact on work/life balance without judicious use of the off-switch.

This observation is critical and centre to some of the debate we’ve been driving on the site we have.

With increased access to systems and information comes increased individual responsibility in ensuring that increased access doesn’t just become an extended tether to the office.

I personally have my device setup for push email during the week between 7am and 6pm.  In the evenings/weekends I manually synchronise when I feel appropriate or necessary.  When I’m on vacation I still take my Windows Mobile device but switch synchronisation off completely.  If I continue to work on vacation – how is it a vacation?

Now there are always critical situations that require me to work outside of those core hours but I can choose to change how/when I access email and other systems. 

I always get frustrated when PDA/Windows Mobile devices get lumped into the same category as Blackberry devices as one fundamental difference between Blackberry and Windows Mobile devices is that you can modify the Push Email experience to suit your work/home life.  With Blackberry it’s always on…. (unless you turn the thing off completely) with Windows Mobile you can choose how and when you are connected. 

Comments (11)
  1. Chris Sutcliffe says:

    You can also set when you receive e mail on the Blackberry (by altering auto on/off time).

  2. Alex Taylor says:

    Yeah but Jason, do you ever find, like I do, that your WM device decides to connect at the weekends, even when its offpeak?  Our WM6 smartphones at work (Vodafone v1415’s) are doing it also.  Saturday and Sundays are not checked, yet come 8am, they connect up, do 1 sync, then don’t bother for the rest of the day!

    Plus we also find there are times when the "off peak schedule" changes back to "As items arrive" when we specifically set them all to Manual.  Many a frantic phone call down to us asking why it’s been connecting at 3am…

    Frustrating, but still couldn’t live without them!

    Are you going to TechEd in November?


  3. MSDNArchive says:

    Chris – sure but is that granular enough to switch off just email?

    Alex – hmmm that’s strange – I’ve never seen that one!  

  4. Alex Taylor says:

    Really?  It’s happened on I’d say 95% of our 100 odd devices at some stage.  They are all Vodafone devices, and they’re fixes and AKU’s, well, lets just say that they don’t exist…

  5. Fai says:

    The blackberries do have a setting to stop email delivery while keeping the phone and web working. The article said they don’t which is incorrect

  6. MSDNArchive says:

    Fai – interesting I’ve not seen that on the Blackberry devices I’ve used – do you know which one it is that has this (or a version of Software?)

  7. Serge Gevaerts says:

    Yes it will infect your personal life, but it’s just how much of a problem you’re gonna make it yourself. As above posts suggest you can turnoff sync at the weekends. But then again trends show a  mixed between work and social life getting stronger. And that’s quite logical when you think in networking terms. The way you network isn’t that different, or at least shouldn’t be, in your personal life compared to your business life. When you look at it that way, there should be a mix work/life 24/7.

  8. Hey Jason,

    It is true what Fai says. My corporate BB 8800 (alas, my company does not support WM yet) does offer the possibility to connect to  voice only, but it is a manual process at best, and not as sophisticated as the WM native or even Onebridge scheduling possibilities.

    I recently ran a BB 8800 EUE blog for Vodafone NL, and after the VF sim expired at the end of the loan period, I had to switch the device to GSM only.



  9. irblinx says:

    I find that in actual fact using my wm device with corporate push actually helps both work and home life. I don’t come in on Monday morning to a stack of emails in my inbox (even worse coming back in off a holiday) and I spend a maximum of about 10 mins responding to urgent emails out of work hours a day but mostly just give them a quick glance and decide if I need to respond immediately.

    So how does that help my home life? Well I’m far less stressed in work as on my journey to work in the morning I’m already thinking over my emails and mentally organising my day and therefore I don’t have stress leaking over into my home life! Admittedly some people at work do struggle with that balance but that isn’t because of their device, these same people would be phoning in to make sure jobs are done at night even without a smartphone.

    As for the the problem that Alex mentions, we have only ever seen that sort of behaviour when (for example) the SSL certificate has expired on the server. In that type of situation where the server actively refuses a connection rather than a connection not being available the devices seem to reset all the sync settings to default.

  10. Fai says:

    On my blackberry 8800 its under email – options – email settings – send email to handheld (choose no). This will stop email delivery and everything else will still work.

  11. MSDNArchive says:

    Fai – thanks for confirming

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