Summer Work Life Balance in the Internet Age

Where are you reading this Blog? Are you reading it on a Smart Phone or Tablet while you’re away from your real office, or are you slaving away at your desk and using your work PC?

Maybe it’s just because it’s July, but the news lately is fully of studies proclaiming the demise of vacations and the refusal of people to take time off work because it stresses them out.

The legal profession, just like most professions, has been talking “work life balance” for many years, though most lawyers will admit their balance is tipped in favour of work. Does technology help this or hurt it?

Our firm has been discussing this concept a lot lately as different people head off on week long vacations or extra long weekends off. As a lawyer, I don’t turn off my technology completely anymore, except for one week in the Spring when I generally travel somewhere remote with poor internet access. I find that one week particularly relaxing and admit to being more refreshed coming back from that trip than ones where I monitor my email.

However, I’m completely prepared to trade being “less refreshed” for being away more frequently. While I’m still on call and working (and I will confess I do enjoy working on campsites while sipping a cup of freshly brewed coffee from a Coleman stove) my family is not and time away with them is nothing I would ever trade.

I recently found (probably due to the season) that campsites are the most conducive place to sorting out complicated arguments – maybe it’s the surroundings, or just the quiet, but those factums that were driving me crazy in the real office, become straightforward, succinct arguments when tackled in the woods.

Some people at the firm, in fact most, say they would prefer to monitor email while away to avoid the stress of a big inbox when they return. In the internet age, that is the reality – reducing your stress on vacation is a personal thing, if checking in on your email relaxes you, then go ahead and do so.

I’m not sure there is a perfect work/life balance that can be attained, however, using technology to be able to work while having a life is a nice benefit of living in the Internet Age.

Inga B. Andriessen JD