Chapter 10Relationship Status: It's Complicated

With a deadline for a project fast approaching, I decided recently it was time to “disconnect.” Thirty-six hours—no social feeds, no e-mail, no entertainment media.

Finally, some time away from the scourge of modern technology.

Except that during that time, I used the Web for controlled bouts of research. And typed on my laptop. And listened to my “focus” playlist through noise-canceling headphones on a flight (nullifying the nontech distraction of a screaming baby).

Thank God for the Gift (?!) of Modern Technology

Technology is ever more powerful, ubiquitous, and maddening when it doesn't work. The modern workplace has a love-hate relationship with technology. It's the cause and the cure of our problems. It's a panacea, and it's a plague. It can increase productivity and boost the bottom line, but it can also be hard to adopt and a huge distraction for employees.

As leaders, our job is to maximize the benefits while minimizing the downsides. The lack of technology frustrates many workers. According to one survey, 89 percent of employees feel deprived of the latest technology.1 At the same time, employees don't feel equipped to handle the distractions tech creates. In an Oxford Economics study, just 41 percent of employees said they had the necessary tools to block out distractions in the workplace. Sixty-three percent of executives, on the other hand, thought the opposite.2

Despite these frustrations, it doesn't seem to be due ...

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