The Autonomy Paradox

Humans love new inventions and technology.

The fact that I can check my email in the palm of my hand anywhere and anytime I want is truly fascinating. 20 years ago this capability didn’t exist!

But just because I am able, does that mean that I should check my email everywhere I go and every spare moment I have?


The Autonomy Paradox

New technology is supposed to help us save time and money, and live a more flexible life. But instead, sometimes technology can end up robbing us of time and money, which results in us feeling more trapped in life.

Take mobile email for example.

Over the last decade, cell phone capabilities have expanded and employees can check their work email on their cell phone anywhere, anytime. This is amazing because it allows us to:

  • Respond to urgent messages
  • Put out workplace fires before they grow larger
  • Work remotely
  • Delegate work faster
  • Work autonomously (be independent, without manager oversight)

These are amazing capabilities, allowing workers to be more flexible and save time.

But, as mobile email has grown to be more popular, productivity expectations have started to increase. Coworkers, employers, and even clients have started to expect people to check and respond to emails outside of office hours.

These expectations are unrealistic. What began as a workplace “benefit” turned into a stressful additional task for workers. The autonomy paradox means instead of employees people realizing the amazing capabilities on remote email, these downsides happen more often:

  • Working during vacation
  • Employees feel they are “always on the clock”
  • Clients, coworkers, manager demand responses quicker, always
  • Every email is now “urgent”
  • No independence or freedom

A service that was supposed to add more autonomy in our lives has somehow stripped us of our freedom. This is why we call it a paradox.

Avoiding a Slippery Slope

Today: Be aware of the autonomy paradox. Make sure the technology advancements you’ve been blessed with are not secretly robbing you of happiness or disrupting your well earned relaxing weekends!!

Airplane mode = ON!

Catch you nerds tomorrow. 😎
– Joel

The Autonomy Paradox
Sunrise in Malibu yesterday at one of my fav surf spots!