One of my recent columns asked if new electronic devices have made federal workers superheroes or if they have turned them into 24/7 puppets.
We got lots of responses, including this from an about-to-retire fed who is also a captain in the Navy Reserves. She thinks it is time we try to get the genie, at least partially, back in the bottle. Here’s her take on the good-servant/bad-master concept:
“Lo and behold, and many years ago, when BlackBerrys and home e-mail accounts had just come into being, the Navy Reserve tried to get those of us serving as unit COs two days a month to volunteer to have BlackBerrys issued to us so the command structure could easily contact us at a moment’s notice and send us correspondence that way throughout the month.
“I failed to avail myself of this special treat but saw other officers lose their personal lives to playing Navy 24/7, but only being paid and in uniform two days a month. Emergency communications are one thing — 24/7 for routine stuff is something else again entirely.
“Now, I hear the government wants its employees to volunteer their own ‘mobiles’ and their own service providers to antagonize people 24/7. I assume in the name of ‘more with less’ and, even worse, the employees’ own ‘convenience.’ To quote an old friend of mine; ‘After a while, all you can do with less is less.’
“The genie needs to go back into the bottle. While it is certainly a very good thing to be employed and get a paycheck, it is not a good thing to have that job be the end-all, be-all of one’s existence. People deserve personal lives.
“One of my co-workers recently put it well: Study after study shows that there needs to be down time and separation from workplace anxieties and stresses, lest the workers and masses become burned out. Uncle Sam and other employers will always ask for more. Employees need to stand up for themselves and not allow the incremental creep of workplace into personal life to become a tsunami.”