Back in the early 90s, I graduated from law school and secured a great job with a great firm. The only problem was that the position was in a city about 90 miles away from where we lived and my wife and I were unsure as to whether we wanted to move there or not.
So I commuted.
I would drive to the city one day, work, spend the night at a buddy’s house, work the next day and then drive home. Needless to say, before long I asked the managing partner if I could telecommute two days a week.
As this was in pre-Internet days and long before the mobile work revolution, this seemed like an outlandish idea. But it is to the firm’s credit that they said yes, although their legitimate concern was whether I would fully work those two days. They really had no way of checking. I certainly did, but eventually chose a job closer to home, and then started my own firm.
My, how times have changed.
Today, not only would my request seem run-of-the-mill, but the firm would probably welcome it as a way to shave expenses, knowing full well that today, people work whenever and wherever they want.
9 to 5 is so 1999.
And that, let me suggest creates a new set of problems. For the most part, people love the flexibility that comes with the ability to work from home, or on the road, or wherever. I am writing this post in a Starbucks for instance.
But it is equally true that what many of us now need to learn is when to stop working. Especially here in the summertime, with kids at home and the sun pulling us outdoors and on the road, there is almost too much opportunity to blur the line between work and home.
Just last night I was at the movies with my brother. He works for me and had spent much of the day trying to secure a new client for us. While that is welcome, what was not was his constantly checking his iPhone throughout the show to see if the deal closed. Yes, my brother is the guy in the movies that you want to shoot.
So I say this to him, and me, and anyone else who needs a gentle reminder: This summer, turn off the smartphone, step away from the computer, and leave work at work.