As my family and I were sitting down for dinner tonight on our back porch, my son ran inside to get something. When he came out, I asked him "what did you need to get." He replied "my phone, in case someone texts me." Now, what I did not tell you is that my son is not yet 4 years old and he does have his own phone, only it has no batteries and does not work. The point of this story is that he learned about texting and the need for having his phone at the dinner table from us, his parents.
Is this a good example for us to set for our kids, that we need to have our phones with us in case someone calls or texts us? It scares me the lesson that we might be teaching our children. What happened to make instant communication so necessary? I remember never having my own phone line (let alone a cell phone) and my friends had to call my parents to speak to me. I remember my first cell phone, which was the size of my arm and cost about $20 per minute. I remember working for a major company that only had one email address for the entire company! I am not waxing nostalgic here, nor am I feeling sorry for myself. I am all for innovation, but this is crazy.
My son should be learning how to read, how to ride a bike, how to climb a tree…the last thing he should be learning is that he should have his phone at the table in case someone texts him. This spills over into the workplace where people are expected to be available 24 hours a day. It is up to the leaders to set a precedent. If you want to encourage work-life balance, don't send people emails at 10pm at night or on the weekend. When someone gets an email from their boss, they will feel obligated to respond. Don't call people at 8pm on a work day and expect them to be available to talk.
As a leader you need to set the example, don't bring your phone to the dinner table.