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Going Cold BlackBerry

12 August 2009  |  3835 views  |  3

Have you noticed how hard it is to stop doing email when you’re on holiday?

Really noticed?

I have a colleague who now has to time herself – she tries to only allow herself to look at her BlackBerry at every other station on her train journey to work.

Packing your holiday suitcase while hiding your BlackBerry from your “significant other” becomes as big a challenge as getting your budget proposal past your line manager.  Hiding the battery charger is even worse – that means that you’re planning to use the BlackBerry so much that it might even go flat on you while you’re away.

Back in about 1985 I was working for an international consulting firm and I ran a major market research campaign for a large communications company that was about to launch the first GSM mobile telephone services in its country.  One thing that our research compared was the general market perception of pagers versus mobile telephones.

The results showed that mobile phones were considered to be “executive management tools” – they reflected the importance of the ability of managers to discuss problems and find appropriate solutions by speaking with their colleagues.

Pagers were considered as “operational tools”, providing simple instructions to “go here”, “phone this number”, etc.  They were considers as being for low-level staff, and their use was considered by many to be somewhat demeaning.  In effect, they were an “executive cattle prod” – an electronic poke-in-the-ribs to tell you to do something.

And now we have the BlackBerry.  Recognise the similarity?  I used to tell my teenage kids that wiggling their thumbs on the controller of a Microsoft PS-2 was no qualification for a future career.  How wrong can you get!

If dropping drugs overnight is called “Going Cold Turkey”, should leaving behind your BlackBerry when you go on holiday be called “Going Cold BlackBerry”?



Comments: (4)

Nick Green
Nick Green - ISD Consultants - Northampton | 13 August, 2009, 14:34

I think the poor people with BlackBerries are quite rightly called CrackBerries - they are addicted to them. The expectation has become that if you get an email at 11:30 at night or on Sunday afternoon while the footy is on or while your on holiday YOU MUST RESPOND. The simple point is you don't have to. Everyone is entitled to some time of your own. In most cases, if not all, the world or the company won't come to an end if you don't answer an email - if it's that urgent they'll ring.

The solution lies in the hands of the users; don't look at it until you start work, don't look at it when you've left work in the evenings and don't look at it when you are on holiday. Yes - I check my email when I'm on holiday, I'm self employed and if I don't I might miss a work opportunity, but I do it as a 'pull' not a 'push' and at a time of my choosing.

Sitting on the train you see the electronic leash snap and the reply dashed off. Do not be a Crackberry, ignor it, read the paper, have a coffee it won't be the end of the world.

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A Finextra member
A Finextra member | 14 August, 2009, 10:06

You're quite right Chris, of course. But isn't there also a transaction going on here? Aren't those of us who are addicted to our mobile messaging device (I'm not sure what the equivalent of a Crackberry is for the iPhone generation) doing a deal with our employers so we can be more flexible about our working hours in exchange for being more immediately accessible?

And our employers are encouraging this because they get more value from us for the meagre cost of providing push email and giving us a mobile device. Ultimately it's our own personal choice.

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Bryan Foss
Bryan Foss - Civilised Investments Ltd - London | 17 August, 2009, 15:11

But what advice can we provide for those who are self-employed? - or in my case working in a portfolio of many roles across commercial enterprises, SME's, public sector organisations, academia and charities.

My personal service level target for turning around emails is around half a day, as I can usually handle them when a meeting takes a longer break or when I travel on to the next location. Of course some emails need more research or consideration, or more structuring or attachments that aren't readily available via a Blackberry, but these are the exception. In my experience a timely response helps to keep the momentum we need for change, which too many organisations lack.

In many ways I like the freedom that my Blackberry provides, because I can prioritise and respond in a way that suits me and the people i'm working with. This earns me the right for people not to ask where I am at any time, or how many hours and minutes I'm clocked on. They are usually more than happy that I am always contactable and that I respond when others dont. I don't find this is misused.

But what do we usually do with this freedom? Probably even more 'work'........but then life needs to be challenging and rewarding - and don't we choose to do what we do....? 


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Anthony Cossey
Anthony Cossey - Fixnetix ltd - London | 17 August, 2009, 18:00

very true chris, blackberries are a addiction, however i took the bold step of only enabling personal email on my own blackberry, I actually opted out of the company blackberry scheme on joining and i simply ask any mailers to txt me on my mobile, this really acts as a strong filter for urgent enquires. I work long hours anyway, i dont want to extend my day further and i find the TXT option means i only get bothered in real emergencies.

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