by Jim Algar
Washington DC (UPI) Nov 11, 2012
Microsoft's confirmation of an Office Mobile app that will let users of iOS and Android devices view and edit Word, PowerPoint and Excel files on their mobile devices raises, if you're willing to give it some thought, a philosophical -- or perhaps at least sociological -- question.
Are we fast finding ourselves in a world where we are never not "at work?"
It's a question that perhaps surfaced with the "crackberry" phenomenon when young, eager business types would almost go into a panic and withdrawal if they suddenly found themselves disconnected from work email or unable to be instantly and electronically in touch with the "home office."
Businesses now seem happy to embrace BYOD -- the "bring your own device" policy that folds workers' own mobile devices into the work environment and its "all connected all the time" ecosystem.
"Taking work home" used to mean a folder in a briefcase that you'd look at once you arrived home after dinner with friends at a restaurant.
These days it is increasingly not just taking work home but taking work everywhere -- including the restaurant.
Watch a group of workers meeting after hours at the sushi bar, and note the chopsticks in one hand and the smartphone in the other.
Now, more than just emailing and texting, they may soon be truly "back at the office" once Microsoft's Office Mobile debuts.
And although Office Mobile for iOS and Android will be free, Microsoft is not being philanthropic.
Users can view their Word, PowerPoint and Excel files, but if they want to modify or edit them, they'll have pony up for a subscription to the full Microsoft Office suite in the cloud.
If they have, then suddenly remembering the "perfect word" they couldn't come up with when writing that business plan is no problem. Just put down the chopsticks and pick up the smartphone, call up the business plan, insert perfect word in paragraph 2, then go back to the California rolls.
No need to have taken a copy of the business plan home for later; you're at work wherever you are, for better or worse.
All work and no play may make Jack a dull boy, but an increasing number of Jacks -- and Jills -- seem unable to take themselves off the clock.
Of course, it's not just business types who experience nomophobia -- a term coined by British researchers to describe people who experienced anxiety when they had no access to mobile technology.
Surveys have found people ages 18 to 24 are the most dependent on mobile technology and the most likely to be uncomfortable if not connected to the umbilical cord that mobile devices have become.
And of course it's that age bracket that feeds the business world, taking their nomophobia with them.
It appears we're becoming a world that is always on Facebook, always texting, always blogging, always emailing and -- increasingly -- always working.
Is that good or bad? That's an argument for another time and place -- if we can manage to turn off our phones long enough to have it.
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