Addictions 101

By Padgett, Lauree | Information Today, October 2011 | Go to article overview

Addictions 101


Padgett, Lauree, Information Today


Two articles from the September/October issue of Intranets look at how much (and how quickly) people engage in online media, whether for socializing or for work. Each article points out that too much of a good thing isn't necessarily good. If you find yourself relating to either scenario, you may have an addiction problem.

Dis-Connect?

Paul Miller's article ("The Power of Portals: Making Technology Work for You," pp. 1-3) looks at the downside of our all-access, all-the-time lives. He begins with the thoughts of MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) professor Sherry Turkle, author of Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other. Turkle believes our need to be online 24/7 is actually creating a disconnect. Miller cites two of Turkle's examples: local friends who choose to stay in touch via Facebook rather than face to face and a parent or spouse who spends most weekends continuously tuned into work via his or her BlackBerry. Turkle encourages users to come to grips with their addictions and "take back control from the devices that never seem to be but a beep away."

In a 2008 Australian study, Kristine Dery from the University of Sydney says the process of reclaiming our lives often needs to start at the office. When burnout rates are high, as Dery says, "'CrackBerries'are real threats to long term talent retention...." She also notes that mobile technology "has shackled us with the knowledge . that we are expected to be available to work at any given moment." Working day and night isn't good for employees or a company's long-term productivity.

Miller says there are actually intranet solutions to help employees become more efficient, stay connected, and remain far from burnout. He cites companies from around the globe that are using creativity and user buy-in to find a better work-life ratio. At British Airways, employees use the intranet to solve problems by sharing solutions. A flight attendant who can't extract a coffeepot from a tight spot on a Boeing 747 only needs to check the intranet to see how someone else did it. Another company's call center staff goes in front of the camera to discuss how to handle angry customers, providing brief instructional videos to make lives of co-workers easier and less stressful. Ride-sharing portals let employees who want to carpool find co-workers who live nearby. Even making complex tasks accessible using single sign-on technology lightens an employee's load.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Relieving the burden of monitoring processes so the systems, not the employees, take on the strain "allows employees to focus on service, the future, and the flow of value to the customer," says Miller. …

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