Saturday, December 26, 2009

How Social Media Stole My Sick Time

Ok, so it’s not just social media that I blame for stealing my sick time, but the whole state of connectivity in general. Even though I love the ease of use of technology, I also resist it.

In November of this year, I needed an orthopedic surgery. I scheduled it, made plans to be out of the office, and stocked up on soup and toilet paper. You know, the things you don’t want to run out of when you’re on crutches and can’t stand at the stove for an hour or drive to the store?

I was ready to rest, recuperate and heal. Maybe even watch a little daytime TV in a mindless vegetative state to speed the healing process. But that just wasn’t meant to be. Nope, instead I was more productive than I’ve ever been due to the widespread accessibility to technology.

In the course of two weeks, I finished reading three books on social media which I had ordered online (CrushIt, Inbound Marketing, and Socialnomics). Every day I dialed-in to my company’s computer network. Stretched out on my couch with my leg elevated, I clicked away on my laptop through my own wireless network to check and respond to client emails and made phone calls to clients when needed.

I logged-on to Instant Messaging so I could converse with colleagues about ongoing projects. I updated my LinkedIn contacts, uploaded a video to Vimeo from a discussion I led at PodCampNH called "I Drank the Social Media Kool-Aid, Why You Should Too" as well as the presentation notes to SlideShare. I wrote a company blog post, Tweeted about it for myself (@dvautier) and the company (@ActiveEdgeTeam). I shared it on my Facebook account with my friends and also updated my company’s Facebook account to promote it. Hell, I even watched the full series of tutorials on the Google Analytics support website and coordinated a new client meeting for the week I returned to the office.

My two weeks of resting, recuperating, and healing away from the office on sick time evaporated. It was simply gone. There was no sick time. If I thought about it, I suppose I could maybe blame some of that fact on me. That I wanted to get some things accomplished, wanted to learn and contribute and stay connected.

Nah, instead I’m just going to blame it on Social Media and technology. After all, I never had this problem before portable computing, instant messaging and cell phones.


Jeff Cutler said...

There's a fine line between keeping up to date to make your return easier and doing the same job from home. Sounds like HR should return your sick time based on how productive you were away from the office.

Further, it makes the case for breaks during the day, access to online tools at the office and frequent brainstorming sessions even stronger.

According to Brendan Koerner's column in the November 2009 issue of WIRED, there is a knee-jerk prejudice to taking breaks during the workday (Koerner's column talks about how legacy employers might view power-naps).

He adds that there are reams of studies that show "a quick nap beats coffee as a way of boosting mental performance. Explain that REM sleep increases your level of acetylcholine, a key neurotransmitter in cognitive function. A mug o'joe does not."

I'm inclined to agree. In any creative field, the way around mental blocks is to think AROUND a problem instead of focusing on it.

The way I see your absence from the office, you are owed a raise, a bonus and a corner office.


Jeff Cutler said...

If you're tired of the cut and paste drudgery, here's a clickable version of that link. Thought Blogger would do that for you...

Brendan Koerner