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Gobbled up by the machine

January 12, 2015 @ 4:54 pm

Returning to work as well as the events in France this week have provided space for some thoughts to coalesce around some ideas which I will explore in the next few blog posts.

For me there is a mirroring of events on the global stage and issues arising for social care practitioners. Because of this mirroring, I suspect these issues reach beyond those working in social care and resonate for many of us as we think about the quality of our lives; our dreams and aspirations personally and for future generations.

This post explores the role of computers and modern technologies. To what extent are we gobbled up by machine or in charge and using machines to our advantage? There seem at times to be unstoppable demands and expectations by computers which require us collectively and individually to unplug ourselves from. Taking stock after your first complete week of the New Year who is in charge of the demands on your time – you or are you subject to the expectations of the machines? The computer we thought would ease our lives now rebukes many professionals with lists of unreasonable deadlines which cannot be adjusted to allow for any additional demands being made.

An interesting idea is that there is a behavioural shift occurring about how our use of technology is increasing expectations that everything is available NOW, not just in the public sector but permeating everywhere. This means that those providing services are expected to be accountable at all times. Why didn’t you answer the phone, respond to my text/email/tweet? How quickly is a response permissible and when does not responding change into transmitting a message of forgetting or ignoring the sender. How much can individuals negotiate these expectations and manage them in such a way as to be reasonable?

The resulting question therefore is how do you protect your self from unreasonable demands. Who defines what is reasonable, you, your manager or external agencies? How do you manage your staff realistically about what is achievable, what aspirational (after all we need to have a level to be challenged) and when do you tell your manager that their expectation of what you and your staff can achieve is not in fact the case.

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