Blogger Judy Mottl has written about the BlackBerry obsession in Canada, which has gotten so bad that the Deputy Minister for Citizenship and Immigration Canada ministry had banned their use between 7 PM and 7 AM. He also banned their use during meetings, a growing concern amongst many professions. Now a company called DDB Canada has taken it one step further. Calling it a “personal digital assistant pandemic,” CEO Frank Palmer has issued a very creative ban on using BlackBerrys during meetings. Anyone caught is issued a yellow card by a fellow employee. If they’re caught again, and are already carrying a yellow card, they’re given a red card and they have to pay their own monthly bill. Quite a deterrent, especially considering the data plan pricing up north.
Well, this is certainly interesting. Canadian unions are now asking for additional pay for employees with company-provided BlackBerrys, due to what boils down to 24/7 availability. We already knew that BlackBerry overuse has increased the average hours worked per week from 47 hours to 71, so the request certainly carries some merit. The Canadian government has said it’s willing to talk about the issue, but Carleton University professor Linda Duxbury warns that people might get more than they bargained for. If companies are paying for the BlackBerry use, she argues, they might send more off-the-clock or after-hours emails or work orders, resulting in even more hours worked per week. It’s a complex issue, and one worth keeping an eye on.
In an effort to reduce work stress and improve quality of life, the Canadian Deputy Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Richard Fadden, has issued a memo to its employees to stop using their BlackBerrys between 7 PM and 7 AM, as well as on weekends, holidays and during meetings. You’d think that everybody would be popping the champagne now that they can relax a little without the ol’ ball and chain, but it’s not entirely the case.
“The department is the first to try to limit the ubiquitous BlackBerry, prompting some diehard users to assail the move as ‘a stupid decision that pretends to deal with the real issue of workload and stress.’ ‘So would we have banned telephones on bureaucrats’ desks at the turn of the century?’ huffed one senior bureaucrat.”
Being in Ottawa, we regularly bust the government’s chops for abusing the Berry, but this sounds like a step in the right direction. Whether or not other departments will do the same is anybody’s guess, but the CIC has set a precedent that we can only hope others will follow.
A reader just let us know about a Zenprise report they were going over, which included some crazy numbers about e-mail and stress in the workplace.
The survey found that 36% of respondents indicated that their job is ‘stressful’ or ‘extremely stressful’. However, when email is down, 74% of respondents indicated that their job is ‘stressful’ or ‘extremely stressful’. Only air traffic controllers and police officers were viewed as having jobs more stressful than that of an IT administator whose email system is down!
Wow. Respect to the IT admins out there who are dealing with stress levels comparable to that of cops. The report had a few pointers that might help keep that blood pressure down, like “be ready to assemble a cross-functional SWAT team to quickly resolve BlackBerry issues” and “consistently monitor & audit your Active Directory infrastructure”.