'Workaholic' Britons can't turn off their BlackBerrys

Workaholic Britons just can’t switch off, according to a Nectar Business survey of 1,000 office workers, but what’s wrong with connectivity, asks TechEye.

The study, which is being released to mark the Small Business Awards 2010, found that technology is forcing workers to spend up to ten extra days working as they cannot stop checking emails and taking calls when they get home.

One of the main offenders is RIM’s BlackBerry, with 33 percent of male respondents and 54 percent of the women saying that they cannot switch them off when they leave the office.

In the consumer world the more connected a device is the better, with the super connected iPhone and soon-to-be launched Google Nexus One allowing users to juggle internet, email, messaging and IM from a single device. In this instance the connectivity is a selling point.

As consumer phones and therefore customer’s phones become better at working on the move and better connected, isn’t it just good business sense to be always available to your customers when they need you?

Indeed the ‘business’ type BlackBerry phones are also bought and sold on connectivity, especially to the type of small businesses that Nectar Business are hoping to attract to its award programme. Many workers rely on the fact that they are contactable out of the office and can catch up on emails while on the move.

No one seems to have asked how long it would take to sort through a bulging inbox if you had to wait until you were back in the office to sort. Let alone what could happen to a small business if urgent emails from customers remained ignored for hours, until the person emailed could get in front of a computer.

And here is where the argument of these awful technology devices robbing us of our freedoms and forcing us into work falls down. Even in the Nectar Business survey almost two thirds of respondents said they believe technology helps them work quickly and efficiently. Surely no bad thing.

The study also discovered that the ‘virtual colleague’ is on the increase with 79 percent of those questioned, admitting they’ve only met half the people they regularly do business with.

Once again TechEye isn’t convinced this is a bad thing, unlike Dragon’s Den star James Caan who says in the Nectar Business press release: “Face-to-face meetings are essential to build a business – it’s important to remember that clients and suppliers buy into the people as well as your product or service.”

But how can this be feasible in every case for a small business or start-up? Not everyone can afford to chopper in to a meeting miles away James, nor can some businesses spare the time. For those of us who have worked in large corporations you quite often don’t know a lot of your colleagues who are based in different offices. With the rise of video calling, for example through Skype, it has become increasingly unnecessary for people to meet face to face. Not to mention the time and money this saves for smaller businesses

A BlackBerry spokesperson was understandably cross about the Nectar Business label that the RIM device is somehow forcing people to work at weekends against their will. At the time of writing BlackBerry was finding an official to speak with TechEye about this.

Surely if ‘workaholic’ Britons can’t switch off it means that they are passionate about their businesses. An extra ten days working a year might seem like very little to most small business owners, most of whom will be struggling with increased national insurance rates and the current markets to afford staff to give them the time off.

Another option available to those who just can’t switch off and have the luxury of being able to do so, is to leave the BlackBerry at the office. There, now that nasty device can’t enslave you on your weekends.