There's a lot of talk these days about the work/life balance. For many, smartphones and cloud technology make it possible to work anywhere, any time. It's feared that we will end up on the job all day.
Some European governments are even contemplating legislating against working after 6pm. They believe we should focus for 10 hours, then give our brains a rest and come back refreshed in the morning. Apparently it's great for productivity, sanity and families.
I'm not convinced.
As I write this I am sitting at the kitchen table, slogging away while my kids jump up and down trying to get my attention. It's 8pm. I started work at 5am.
Am I being forced by new technology to work 15 hours a day?
No. I am working now because I had two extra beers at lunch. I did that because I knew I could email this article tonight. If I didn't have that option I would have gone back to the office and finished hours ago.
Technology allows us to have lunchtime beers and still meet our deadlines. So are we really doing more or just spreading it out over a longer period?
Obviously working from home isn't always a procrastination issue. There are often problems that need to be solved out of office hours. Checking our phones constantly is very important. What would happen if we just let things ride?
Strangely, when I'm at the beach, the world runs fine. Arguably better. It's as if my late-night emails to coworkers create more problems than they solve. Not that I'll ever stop.
Communicating after hours might not be productive, but it is fun. Most of my important work messages are actually stupid jokes, backstabbings or intentional time-wasters. It looks like I'm working but I'm not. I love using my phone.
I wouldn't be surprised if the vast majority of "working from home" action is really just fiddling to pass the time.
Even before smartphones dads weren't particularly zoned in on their families. If they had a lot of work to do they just didn't come home.
If he did make an appearance the dad of old spent most of his home time reading the paper, tinkering in the shed or sitting in the bathroom. It could be argued that the natural state for a dad is "zoned out".
Cloud technology isn't the problem, it's boredom.
No matter how much you love your family, you get bored. One second you're having a great time building Lego. Then without warning you're over it. Even the proudest parents tire quickly and search for adult communication.
Making your kids play grown-up games doesn't help because they perform at a comparatively low level. You can only smash your 5-year-old's bowling out of the backyard so many times before you end up leaning against a tree texting your friends.
People claim smartphones are the new cigarettes. It's not about communication it's about having something to do with your hands. I say phones are the new everything.
In the 80s bored dads would slink off from the family to write letters or smoke pipes.
These days we have "emails to check". In reality that takes 30 seconds and is followed by 45 minutes gaming on the toilet. If anyone complains we take the "I'm working" moral high ground.
At least you're home.
Parenting is 90 per cent being there. Being there zoned out, pretending to do work is better than staying at the office all weekend.
We're constantly told that technology is making the work/life balance harder to achieve. It would be more accurate to describe it as the "work/life/gaming/texting stupid jokes to your mates" balance.
Just because we always have our phones in our hands doesn't mean we're working more than we used to.
We should be thankful for cloud technology. It affords us the opportunity to take longer lunches, zone out from the family and still be lauded as a hard workers. Win, win, win.
I may have blown my cover.