Harvard Biz School prof Leslie Perlow took on the 24/7, always on, AOMO culture at its most intense, the world of management consulting, and made a simple, but startling suggestion:
From a Forbes piece on her work (Sleeping with Your Smart Phone? Here’s the Cure):
Perlow started with a simple, minor — and ingenious — change to one small team’s routine. Instead of working late every night, she said, what if each consultant vowed to wrap up early one night a week. Do anything except work, she said. Play golf. Have dinner with your kids. See a movie. Pick your diversion; just find some way to reconnect with the rest of the world.
Consultants trembled. “What if my clients need me?” they asked. Get a colleague to cover for you, Perlow replied. And start holding weekly meetings where team members figure out how to divide up work more effectively. That way some part of the team can be available around the clock without requiring everyone to be on call.
Gradually her approach took hold. Consultants discovered that they liked a little time off. They felt better about their jobs. They were less likely to quit. Most strikingly, they and their bosses rated their work more highly. Something about these pauses was making consulting more efficient, more team-oriented or maybe even more creative.
A little like the technology sabbath idea, but perhaps easier to do? Some how I missed this year’s “National Day of Unplugging” and was late for my “technology detox.” Damn smart phone reminders must have been turned off.