While smart phones have made it easier for workers to stay connected to the office, they may not be a good idea for every commute. According to a new CareerBuilder Canada survey, more than one-half (51 per cent) of workers who have a smart phone or similar device said they check it when driving a vehicle. The survey was conducted among more than 700 workers between November 5 and November 23, 2009.

Some workers admit they may be risking safety on the road to check their phones because they feel pressured to do so. Twenty-three per cent of workers say they check their mobile device every time it vibrates or beeps and 15 per cent report they are required by their company to be accessible beyond office hours via mobile device. Also, 8 per cent of workers said they feel obligated to constantly stay in touch with work because of the current tough economy.

In addition to driving, workers with smart phones said they are checking in with the office on their smart phones from virtually anywhere and everywhere, including:

— During a meal – 65 per cent

— While in the bathroom – 57 per cent

— Lying in bed at night – 52 per cent

— On vacation – 46 per cent

— At a movie, play, musical, etc… – 23 per cent

— At a child’s event of function – 17 per cent

— On a date – 16 per cent

— Working out at the gym – 11 per cent

— At church – 7 per cent

“It is challenging for workers to maintain a good work/life balance when they are constantly connected to the office, so turning their devices off is important for their health and safety,” said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources for CareerBuilder. “The lines between work and life can be very blurry these days – 15 percent of workers said they feel like their work day never ends because of technology connecting them to the office. To reduce burnout and avoid potentially risky behavior, workers should allot technology-free time when away from work.”

Haefner offers the following advice on how to disconnect from the e-leash:

— Turn off your smart phone when driving: Not only is it illegal in many
provinces, but using your mobile device while driving is dangerous to
you and others on the road. If it’s necessary to leave your smart
on and a conference call or other urgent matter comes up, pull over to
safely handle the situation.

— Set priorities for outside of work: Twenty per cent of workers
to be accessible beyond office hours report that being too connected
their jobs via technology has caused issues or arguments with their
friends and family. Discuss the e-leash with your loved ones so that
they are aware that sometimes you may need to be connected to work.

— Have a backup plan in place: If you anticipate being needed outside of
the office, plan to have an out-of-office message or voicemail up, or
leave contact information for others familiar with your area of the
business. That way, any emergency can be handled appropriately if you
can’t get to it.