Forget Telecommuters, Technology Is Creating Work Extenders

from the the-new-terminology dept

With all the focus on how technology is making it increasingly easy for workers to telecommute, less focus has been paid to the fact that many workers find themselves working from home all the time in addition to working at the office. Instead of telecommuters, these people are referred to as “work extenders” – and on average, they seem to spend an additional 6 hours a week working at home. The fear is, however, that these work extenders are becoming “workaholics” who can’t draw a boundary between work and non-work life. Telecommuters, for the most part, don’t have this problem – because they need to draw the boundaries early on to telecommute successfully. But, the work extender doesn’t, and ends up getting sucked in to working all the time. Of course, the stories in the article are all anecdotal. It would be more interesting to see how big a problem this really is. If it’s just people catching up on email, or getting a few things done at home, I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. It’s when people talk about needing to answer their mobile phone in the shower – or admitting that they can’t go a few hours without checking email or voicemail that you have to wonder if things are getting a little out of hand.

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Comments on “Forget Telecommuters, Technology Is Creating Work Extenders”

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Anonymous Extender says:

No Subject Given

I find myself on the slippery slope of this issue all the time. Since much of my job is email-based, I’m hooked on checking my BlackBerry even on (week)days off. During a 2-week leave for a new child, I’d check and respond to urgent notes twice a day, even though everyone knew I was out and knew who may backup was.

For me, the time given to supporting this ‘catch a problem early’ mode was minor relative to the time needed to fix issues that had two weeks to incubate away from my attention. This has led to a few “can’t you just leave the job behind on a vacation day” gripes from the spouse, who’s got a point – we all managed to cope with info-separation in the in the bad old days, and maybe a clean break is good for the mind and soul in ways we’ve forgotten to appreciate.

Okay, this is not quite the same as the workaholic behavior described in the post, but my point is that dysfunctional behavior usually starts with baby steps like I’m finding myself taking. I’m hoping I’ll get better at seeing the lines that should not be crossed before, and not after, they are crossed.

rax (user link) says:

Re: Finding equilibrium

On the flip side of this situation: If you find yourself occasionally working 50-60 hours at the office, it’s nice to be able to at least take some of that work home with you.

In an environment where work schedules change on a week-by-week basis based on deliverable dates, it’s nice to be able to “extend your day” during extremely busy times from the comfort of home instead of spending long hours in an abandoned office building. This is especially great if your employer offers flex time, since you can obviously take some time off after the project is done.

Whether or not you can actually break away on your day off is another matter.

WorkAholic says:


Employeer’s will only take what employee’s are willing to give.
When I leave my job, I leave it.
Go home … enjoy your family … pet your dog … just rest
Because when your dead, no one is going to care if you checked your email compulsively …
Trust me, your kids & spouses would appreciate having you ” back ” …
Mine do 🙂

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