Get a Life

By Judith Welles

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Get a Life!: Tech advances bring distractions -- and flexibility

In recent posts, I pointed out some of the concerns about the information glut that comes with technology.  Too many e-mails, too many messages, too many interruptions all help to distract and impede productivity.  But employees tell me there is another side of the equation.

A worker in the Justice Department is thankful to have a government-issued BlackBerry.  While her office does not provide flextime or part-time options, management is tolerant of employee needs if workers are available by phone or e-mail.  Hence, the BlackBerry takes on even more importance.  

When the worker takes her child to a doctor’s appointment, she can check e-mail messages and respond while she waits for the doctor.  Her view is that technology is not the problem; what matters is the management where you work.   

A worker at the U.S. Patent Office finds that an iPod helps him focus at work by drowning out the noises of other cubicles.  While the iPod may tune out what is going on around you – such as a world-class violinist performing at a subway station – it can also tune some workers in to their work if management allows the practice.   

Both of these examples tell us something about our changing workforce.  An article in the Washington Post highlighted what some of us already know about millennials, the youngest generation in today’s workforce. 

Technology gives them flexibility to work where, when and how they wish.  Technology is also their social connector. Even though multitasking is as simple as using a BlackBerry, and the BlackBerry goes to dinner with some workers, they don’t feel burdened.

The challenge for management is to focus on results and try to overlook how workers such as millennials get to them.  

Baseball:  The Partnership for Public Service has discount tickets available for Washington Nationals vs. Houston Astros, Saturday, July 12 at 7:10 p.m. Go to  for the discount. You do not need to be a government employee.

Judy Welles

Posted by Judith Welles on Jul 08, 2008 at 12:13 PM


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