Rutgers Professors Talk Digital Era Work-Life Balance in New Book

Rutgers work-life balance

In an era of constant contact, how can workers create a stable work-life balance? In a new book, two Rutgers Business School explore the dilemma.

In Distracted: Staying Connected without Losing Focus, Associate Professor of Management and Global Business Dr. Terri R. Kurtzberg and Associate Professor of Communication Dr. Jennifer L. Gibbs address how to address an increased bleeding of work into home-life.

“Many people feel pressure to keep up this pace only because others are doing so,” the two explain. “Burnout in the long term is a real and serious problem, and higher rates of error and an actual slowdown of progress can result from trying to do too many things at the same time in the short term.”

The duo identifies a catch-22 between an entrepreneurial desire to keep the workflow flowing efficiently and how the trend to respond to problems as they arrive “strips [entrepreneurs] of having any reliable downtime.”

Kurtzberg and Gibbs point out that the exponential need to stay connected is a common byproduct of success.

“At the very beginning, your decisions about how you work only affect yourself. But once other people depend on you to set the tone and create the policies by which they will work and live, the burden changes,” they said

However, one of the largest factors in the increasing grey area between work and home-life is the size of the company an employee works for. The two explain:

“The thing is, your company when it’s brand-new and it’s mostly just you (or you and a small team) is a very different thing from your company once you have an actual list of employees of any real size. At the very beginning, your decisions about how you work only affect yourself. Now, this doesn’t mean that it’s healthy or even productive to try and cram in as much as possible into every minute of your time—burnout in the long term is a real and serious problem, and higher rates of error and an actual slowdown of progress can result from trying to do too many things at the same time in the short term. People need breaks, and sleep, and full-on vacations to recharge. But that being said, deciding when and how to work is still a personal decision when it’s just you who is affected.”

The researchers emphasize that careers should be treated as marathons, not sprints. “Research shows that people are more productive, and stay with their companies for longer periods of time, when they have more predictable downtime, including required vacations.”

You can read the rest of Kurtzberg and Gibbs’ article here and purchase Distracted: Staying Connected without Losing Focus today.

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