Opinion by Thought Leaders
Read the latest opinions from tech & business pros across the globe.

Is Life Better With Or Without Technology?

 

Technology Dominates Modern Day Life, But Is It Good or Bad?


As a Gen X’er (those born between 1965 and 1980), I grew up alongside technology. However, life in the 80s and even the 90s was much different than it is now, and my childhood didn’t feel like it was dominated by all things electronic. We didn’t have cell phones, Google, or social media when we were young (much to the shock and horror of my kids). I didn’t spend the majority of my youth staring at a screen. I wouldn’t have grown up in any other decades, although that is all I know. Many people argue that we had it better than kids do now, but did we?

Communication and Entertainment - From Street Lights to Cell Phones

Growing up, I spent most of my time playing outside with my friends. I have so many fond memories of running around outside for hours, exploring and going from friend’s house to friend’s house until it got dark. When the street lights came on at dusk, that was my signal that it was time to head home. My mom also had a giant bell that she would ring, and we would hear it from a distance and know that it was dinner time.

In elementary school and junior high, my friends and I passed notes back and forth to chat, and we knew about 1,000 different ways to fold a piece of paper. My friends and I would often mail letters to one another despite living just down the street and having the ability to walk to each other's houses. I still have all of my notes and letters from childhood saved in a box, and it is quite a large collection.

We used landline phones with super long curly cords to call family and friends, and long phone calls were common and plentiful. One of our home phones was a rotary phone, and I still remember hating when someone had a 9 in their phone number, as that number took the longest to dial. When we were out and about, we carried around quarters for payphones, which we used to call our parents and tell them when it was time to pick us up from the mall. When I got to high school pagers (aka “beepers”) were popular, and it felt exciting to be able to communicate on-the-go.

During my youth music was mostly played via the radio or cassette players, but we also occasionally pulled out the record player. We spent hours waiting by our boomboxes, waiting to hear our favorite song on the radio, and when it came on we would quickly press record to try to tape the whole song on our cassette tapes without missing a beat. We used portable Walkmans to listen to our taped playlists. In the early 90s, audio CDs replaced cassette tapes, and cassette tapes basically became extinct.

MP3s, or digitally-compressed music files, brought about a new level of accessibility to music in the late 90s. However, it was still tricky to grab music off of the internet, until Napster came along. Napster was a software that enabled people to download their favorite songs from other users, who had retrieved them from ripped CDs, often breaking copyright laws. The software peaked from late 2000 to early 2001 until it declined in the early 2000s due to lawsuits from musicians and music companies. The Apple iPod, a portable media player that was released in late 2001, was designed by Steve Jobs and revolutionized how we listened to music. Apple came through once again in 2003 when it introduced a new way to download music with the iTunes Music Store, which offered millions of songs for only 99 cents apiece. Now we have a plethora of ways to download inexpensive or even free music online using iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Pandora, etc.

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Remote Jobs Benefit Employees and Employers

 

These days it seems as though companies are all trying to “out cool” each other and compete for the title of Best Place to Work. Taking their cues from Google, it’s now quite common for companies — especially tech companies — to offer their employees perks like gyms, game rooms, lunches, coffee baristas, and more. Many companies are moving from old musty buildings to brand new buildings with glass walls, bright colors, games, and even built-in beer taps.

I’ve worked in a few places like this, and I even worked as a recruiter at one. People who came in for interviews saw the ping pong table and arcade games and were instantly sold on the company culture. “This must be a super fun place to work,” they would say. And it mostly was, although that had much more to do with the people and the environment created by management than the games, which mostly collected dust.

Employees love bells and whistles. We love bagels with assortments of cream cheeses, and we get excited about wearing jeans to work. We love clubs and games and feeling like we’re part of a hip company culture. Sure, all those things are great, but many people would happily do away with all of those things entirely and embrace the benefits of working from home instead.

Although many companies have gone entirely paperless, there is often still hesitation from employers when it comes to allowing employees to work outside of the office. Yet the benefits of working from home far outweigh the benefits of working in an office, both for employees and employers.

Benefits for Employees

  1. Greater Productivity. Remote employees can focus on getting the job done without office distractions. Research done by Gallup has consistently shown that remote employees are happier, satisfied, and more productive.
  2. More Money. Working from home saves employee’s money otherwise spent on gas, fancy work clothes, and fast food. Getting more work done can lead to greater commissions for commissioned employees.
  3. Health Benefits. Waking up, rushing around, and dodging traffic doesn’t make for a great start to the workday. Cutting out commuting cuts out stress and makes for happier employees. At home, an extra chunk of time can be spent doing refreshing things like taking a power nap, taking a quick walk out in the fresh air, doing some yoga stretches, etc.
  4. Work/Life Balance. Instead of taking PTO and rushing around between the office and the kids’ school, parents can take a quick break and pick up their kids from school and see them more often. These small things can make a world of difference for both parents and children in terms of happiness.

Benefits for Employers

  1. Greater Productivity. One of the main concerns’ employers have is that if they allow their employees to work remotely, employees will be less productive. This mindset has been proven wrong repeatedly. Studies consistently show that productivity increases when employees work from home.
  2. More Money. When employee productivity increases, so does company revenue. Allowing employees to work from home also cuts down on office costs for supplies such as coffee, paper towels, etc. Healthier employees also lead to lower health insurance costs.
  3. Fewer Employee Absences. When employees work from home, they are less likely to call in and take unscheduled paid time off. Rather than calling in sick, an employee can sit at their desk or even lie on their bed at home and work, rather than coming in and spreading germs around the office, subsequently causing more employees to call in.
  4. Less Turnover. Healthier employees with a greater work/life balance are more satisfied employees, who are much more likely to stay in their position.

If the idea of letting employees fly away from the nest is still a terrifying idea for employers, they can start by allowing their employees to work from home one day a week or a few days a week. Rather than worrying about giving up control, employers should worry about employees’ productivity and overall well-being, for the benefit of all parties involved. In today’s world, companies should adapt and allow employees to work remotely in order to continue to attract and retain top talent.

 
 
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