Yesterday I read on Technolawyer a post written by Ed Zohn, a NJ attorney who writes frequently on law office technology. Ed's thesis, with which I agree, is that many lawyers, in the quest for automated efficiency, have made themselves victims of TMT — "too much technology." That is, we allow our automated tools to distract us into scattered thought, fractured effort, and less rather than more work efficiency. One of Ed's solutions to this problem has been to ditch his smart phone in favor of a regular old cell phone. You can find the whole article here. It's well worth the short time that reading it will take.
But speaking of scattered thought, it also got my employment-lawyer mind moving in another direction. With Blackberries, iPhones and their ilk becoming ubiquitous in the workplace — and often employer-supplied — what of the employees who are busily checking their e-mail during dinner, before bed, and first thing in the morning? Must they be paid for that time?
Tom Crane at the San Antonio Employment Law Blog thinks that e-mail time is probably compensable time. Some quick research confirmed that he's probably right.
Employers that want their workers to be available electronically 24/7 had best be prepared to track the time of non-exempt employees spent working electronically beyond normal office hours, and pay for it at the proper rate.