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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: May 22, 2009 @ 1:28 am

    Turn on, tune in, drop out

    Ciara O'Brien

    According to a new lifestyle survey by O2, more bosses of small and medium firms are taking work home as a result of the downturn, with some working weekends and others being contacted regularly while on holidays. Newsflash: it’s not just the bosses.A straw poll of a few friends and acquaintances has revealed that most of them are working on some weekends, while being out of the country/out sick/in hospital doesn’t stop the endless phone calls wondering where this piece of information is and what should be done with this particular order/file/whatever. And none of them were bosses. While I have the utmost sympathy for small firms in today’s difficult economy, the truth is that, for some at least, becoming their own boss was a choice. Who I do feel sorry for is the average worker who can’t even take three hours off in peace without some form of major crisis happening that necessitates a phone call to break up the day.This is where technology has a lot to answer for. In the days before email and mobile phones  were commonplace, people had to make do with the regular old landline. And if you didn’t pick up, tough. If they were very fancy, they might have an answering machine (no voicemail in those days either).But now, you can be contacted no matter where you are thanks to text messaging, emails on your blackberry or instant messaging on your mobile phone. And some of it is our own fault.In my case, the blame is all mine. A few days off and I hadn’t even managed managed to switch off my Blackberry (instant withdrawal symptoms would ensue if I even tried). And that’s how I found myself trying – and eventually succeeding – to file several articles while sitting in the airport in Paris, even if it did take two laptops, two Blackberries, a mobile phone and a dodgy wireless connection. No one was ringing demanding them, I just decided, for some reason, that this was the best time to do it. It probably doesn’t help that I’m the most disorganised person I know. So Irish workers, do yourself a favour. Next time you are lucky enough to bag a few days off, even if it’s just at home, turn off the mobile. Ditch the Blackberry. Be uncontactable for a few days  and enjoy it. I’m taking my own advice for once and starting from tomorrow.Honest.