August 14th, 2008
04:09 PM GMT
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I went on a holiday to a remote beach resort in Egypt a few years ago. It was the best holiday I've had - because my husband's BlackBerry did not work there.

OK, I admit, this was before I got a BlackBerry from my office. And, since getting one, I am quite hooked as well.

Do I check it at home? Yes. Do I check it on weekends? Just a few times. Do I take it on holiday? Yes. Do I sleep with it under my pillow? NO!

That's what one worker from London's business district told me when I stopped him on the street to ask him if he uses a BlackBerry.

"Incessantly" was his reply. He said it never leaves his side, that he takes it on vacation, and that he sleeps with under his pillow.

Surprised? Perhaps this statistic will surprise you more: 83 percent of people surveyed in London's financial district by Credant Technologies admitted they're taking their BlackBerries or office mobile phones along with them on holiday this year.

Almost two thirds of London brokers said they contacted their office while they were vacationing.

Life coach Rebekah Fensome, whose office is a stone's throw away from London's financial area, says the numbers don't surprise her.

It's a reflection of the times we are in, she says. The financial downturn means people are insecure about their jobs, worried they will be made redundant, concerned about their salaries and bonuses - so they feel the need to constantly check in with their offices.

"We call it the city paranoia," says Yvonne Eskenzi of Credant.

"With the recession, people are far more keen to check their emails at work, to make sure colleagues are not muscling in on their work, to make sure they're not missing any work in the office," she says.

Fensome says she understands why some people feel the need to check their BlackBerries all the time. People tell her it helps them succeed at work. That if they are able to check their emails while on holiday, it means less stress when they return to the office.

Others, like the city worker who sleeps with his BlackBerry under his pillow, say they thrive on it.

Burnout. That's what will happen, warns Fensome, if BlackBerry users aren't careful about how many times they check for that flashing red light.

"To be really successful in your work life, you need to understand you also need to take breaks," she warns. Otherwise, it could lead to psychosomatic issues such as fear, worries, insominia which comes through stress.

Also, wider issues around relationship breakups and problems with being able to engage in family life when you go back home."

With that, I think Fensome is right on the mark. I know so many grumbling spouses/partners who want to chuck an unwelcome BlackBerry into the deep end of the pool or off a mountain when it comes along on a holiday.

Do you feel the same way? Or do you take your BlackBerry along as well?

"She gets pretty irate with me, my girlfriend when I am supposed to be on holiday on the beach and I am checking my BlackBerry," said another City worker to me. Do you blame his girlfriend? I'd love to know what you think.

As for the City man who sleeps with his BlackBerry under his pillow? I forgot to ask him if he has a partner.

And if my husband tried that? Well, the BlackBerry would be under the couch. Because that's where he'd be!

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soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Warren K

    If I could take my blackberry into the shower, I would. I'm not proud of the fact, but I am an addict

    August 15, 2008 at 11:12 am |
  2. Oluremi

    You are not hooked until you have had one. Adults should know how to balance work and play, ordinarily. But this is nothing but ordinary time.


    August 16, 2008 at 4:48 pm |
  3. yana

    i sleep with my iphone under my pillow...

    August 17, 2008 at 3:30 am |
  4. Thomas

    I have to say that I used to be one of those people that had to be "always on". My trusty phone was in my hand 24/7, literally! But I had one of those defining moments some months ago while riding on the metro where I live. The train was packed as usual and I was standing at the back of the car observing everyone. What I noticed was that everyone in that car was glued to their mobile device. They were not talking, they were sending text messages and waiting impaitiently for an all important message to return. I thought to myself I hope I am not like all these people, but I was. I felt rediculous that I was a slave to this thing. And when I got home that night I decided my relationship with my mobile device had a new set of rules. I rarely use it any more, and when I do, it is just to talk. And my life is just fine that way.

    August 19, 2008 at 10:41 am |
  5. Alvin Yow

    Just under the pillow? I bring them to the shower. I no longer have a life beyond work.

    August 22, 2008 at 5:31 am |
  6. Ramsi Hashash

    Well, I travel a lot am only at home on weekends andsome times I even travel for two or three weeks at a time, but I do not have a Blackberry or any other hand held. Yes my phone travels with me 24/7 and I check my e-mails when ever I can continuesly. However I do turn my phone off very often at night and yes it is next to me on the bedside table, but I surely do not take it to bed.

    Having said this, I understand that there are people, especially those who are working within and around the financial industry who need to stay onine 24/7 since today the markets do not realy sleep any more. That is different than 40 years ago.

    However outside the financial market I do not see the need. If an organization can not wait for a decision for a few hours, that means that there is something seriously wrong in the organization.

    September 1, 2008 at 10:38 pm |
  7. Lekarshi

    I don’t know about people in other professions using the Blackberry but in the IT industry a Blackberry is a boon rather than an adversary. Folks in production support especially for financial companies have no life during the weekends because they are expected to be close to a computer all the time. Even though these shifts rotate, there is still a second point of escalation etc. So you will have to be somewhere near a computer all the time. This was before the Blackberry. Now you can take your blackberry, drive out on the weekend, and if some process is hung (Unix/computer terminology) you could connect to your secure office network using the blackberry browser and restart or monitor processes through the web interface. And when clients call support at midnight, yes you need your blackberry under the pillow or close to your ears so that you can hear the damn thing ring.

    September 24, 2008 at 10:11 am |
  8. Sarali

    What if you need desperately your job? I confess: I'm a work paranoic, but in this world we need to fight for our job to keep it. As a Mom and wife of this years I cannot afford the luxe to be at home doing house work. I have to work and I have to be succesful at it and that's the reason for a Blackberry.

    October 8, 2008 at 2:25 pm |
  9. Sheik Ali Omar, Malaysia

    Sorry to have to tell you that I don't even buy a phone with blackberry. It's not necessary for people like me here. I don't busy around for things that are meant for work.

    Oh well, we are a kind of a modern society too here. Our new generation kids are also hooked to these new gadgets, but, these gadgets don't assist much in their success.

    I prefer the old fashion way, less pressure, and for an easy life. It's no way it may help me achieve what I want to progress in my job. Still I do my work as expected. Just fine.

    October 8, 2008 at 5:26 pm |
  10. c. amor

    I think there must be a balance. It is funny that the things we own begin to own us. The things that make our lives simple and convenient also bring complication and burden. Addiction is addiction no matter what we call it but I think some people just have to have more control than others. For me it would have to be a very good reason to have that much "over-stimulation" but then again if I had a Blackberry there would probably be a good reason to have it on all the time.

    October 10, 2008 at 7:31 pm |
  11. John Smith

    Ya I do agree, It is really hard to sleep with my phone but I cant avoid that.


    October 15, 2008 at 5:08 pm |
  12. earle,florida

    The sub-liminal message I get from specific groups of people are manifesting negative compulsive-behavior, regarding inate-external insecurity,allowing/confusing the on/off hierarchy spontaneous data (thought process) switch, compromising their personal life via work related obligations . Very unhealthy paralells, that of the old west, and every one having his side-arm(six-shooter) as a security blanket is the one scenerio thats sets off the alarm bells!

    November 15, 2008 at 6:40 pm |

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