A couple of weeks or so ago I read a column in ComputerWorld by Paul Glen titled “How Indispensable Should You Be?“. One of the the things that I found most interesting was Paul’s theory on how new information technology tools such as the BlackBerry encourage a cyclical co-dependance on them as compared to providing the benefits that we all think they do.
Paul basically states the always on, always reachable technology behind a device like a BlackBerry actually makes employees less independent than the would be if they didn’t feel that they could get to their manager 24/7.
Often, staffers like this setup. Its lower-risk for them and requires less work. Whenever something comes up, just contact the boss.
Initially, I didn’t agree or disagree with Paul’s point of view, however, since I have had more time to think about what he was saying, I believe that there is a lot of truth to it. I believe that the benefits of the BlackBerry far outweigh the detriments, BlackBerry addiction included. I can, however, having been in management position for over 10 years in my day job, tell the difference between interactions that I have with my employees now as compared to ones I had 10 years ago.
I definitely am kept in the loop to an extent that is only possible with the ability to receive email and instant messages anywhere, anytime that was not possible before the BlackBerry. When I really think about it, the fact that I or any manager that is connected 24/7 via a BlackBerry or similar device can make a decision for an employee via a phone call, Email, or IM does stifle independence just a bit.