Technology – is it a blessing or a curse? On the one hand, it makes it possible to work remotely at any time of the day or night; on the other hand, it makes it possible to work all the time. This can lead to emails and the like being sent from strange places and in odd circumstances. A survey out this week by Bathstore showed 20% of people are actively online in the bath, completing tasks such as online banking, sending work emails, shopping online and general net surfing. When you add children into the equation that can make for some even more unlikely scenarios. Here is the Workingmums.co.uk’s Guide to Technology and how to take control of it before it takes control of you.
1. Mobile etiquette: Now that emails are sent at any time of the day and night the likelihood of you finding yourself in the odd “multi-tasking” email situation or MES[S] is heightened, for instance, having to duck into the school toilets during parents evening to email Japan, which will inevitably results in an urgent call to clarify said email because you didn’t check for auto-correct.
In such circumstances, be aware of your environment eg school toilets have a bad echo effect and if you know that you are going to get an urgent call or it is even a possibility when you are out and about scout the immediate area for a quiet spot, eg, a cupboard. Be aware of mobile reception issues eg if you are in a forest and the phone rings or you need to send an urgent email, you may need to find a clearing very quickly or sprint to the top of the nearest hill with phone pointed towards the sun as you seek the elusive bars. Inevitably, you will also be clutching a small person who will no doubt need a poo just as you are getting into mid flow. View this as an interesting challenge rather than a panic-inducing blood pressure disaster.
2. Whenever you get a new phone system make sure you check out the mute function. This could literally save the day. Just make sure you unmute it when it comes to your turn to speak and that you were at least lending one ear to the preceding conversation so you don’t either give a very cogent presentation on the latest statistics on cotton production to an empty void or find yourself being asked to do something that you didn’t quite catch and saying yes and then hoping that someone will chase you up about it at some future point so you actually know what it is and that it isn’t some task on which the whole stability of the future of your organisation rests.
3. Beware Multitasking Megalomania. This is where you get so used to doing lots of things either simultaneously or one after the other with no break time whatsoever and become a bit blase about the whole thing, fatally agree to adding one more thing to the load only to find it all comes crashing down on top of you and you burn the dinner, drop the potty and hit reply all when sending a confidential response to a close colleague.
4. Youtube etiquette: if your work has a Youtube channel make sure you do not leave it logged in on a home computer while you take a break to do the dinner or homework. The consequences could be dire. You may find that your organisation is openly advertising its love for Niall Horan, a tribute to Hot Guy or the latest Ninja Turtle video in Russian.
5. Conference calls: don’t leave it until the last minute to check the technology works only to find yourself getting very stressed and discovering you have broadcast sounds of fluster and a fair few choice swear words across the globe. Do not take out your distress on the computer unless you have very good insurance cover.
6. Skype calls: beware background distractions if you are doing calls from home outside normal hours. Don’t get so absorbed in your call that you fail to spot what is going on behind you, whether that is a child attempting to climb the wall a la Spiderman, an inappropriate poster of a grunge rock group saying “Death to capitalism” or your washing.
7. Do not let children install apps on your mobile phone or change the ring tone so that you are just about to close a deal when your phone miaows to be petted or makes a bird call. If this happens, hit mute fast and pretend it wasn’t you. Hopefully you are near a forest or park at the time. If one is nearby, lean towards it in a nonchalant fashion. NB this may not work in a boardroom scenario.
8. Never ever let children know your passwords and if they find one out, change it immediately, although make sure that you can actually remember it and it is not just a variation on the last one. Teenagers, in particular, are wise to this one and can crack most systems. Your name plus the figures 1, 2, 3 or 4 is probably not a wise idea. Your name in Basque plus a few Sanskrit characters might do it. Make sure you learn Basque and Sanskrit [and that your children don’t].
9. Alternatively, enlist children in all things technology. They will know way more than you, but make sure you understand what they are doing or they will take over and you will be powerless to do anything about it.
10. Take a techno break every now and then and remember the old days when you could be mysterious and unavailable.