In a world of technology, draw boundaries between work and home

Gwen Henry | Cartoonist

By The Editorial Board

Growing up in the boom of technology, college students have come to know the changing landscape of school and work. Whether it be the regularity of weekend exams, 11:59 p.m. deadlines or last-minute emails, the way current students interact with school is severed from the “good ol’ days” — weekends and breaks absent of homework — preached upon by elders.

While the course load itself has been relatively consistent for the past few decades, technology has been invasive of students’ time outside of the classroom in a way homework has never been before, considering decades of education. With learning management systems such as Blackboard and Canvas developed specifically to bring the classroom to students’ devices, the reminder of assignments, exams and other scholarly duties has been persistent — providing hardly any relief from the stress that comes with them.

Employers are also beginning to see the new age. With the expanding arena of artificial intelligence, the world outside of school grounds is evolving the job market.

Let’s be clear: Robots won’t be taking your job, but rather grading you on your work — similar to what Turnitin can do on an English paper. However, these AI “graders” will create a different culture surrounding technology based on how they use it.

Since asynchronous work-from-home jobs became more prevalent during the COVID-19 pandemic, AI has flourished, with more than 60% of jobs using it to monitor workers. While the mouse-clicking frequency may give special intel to companies, 45% of employees have said it has a negative effect on their mental health.

The breaching of boundaries isn’t going anywhere, and if anything, it will only grow. Company communication is almost exclusively online now that employees are scattered across the globe, and virtual opportunities will continue to pop up.

But even with these opportunities advancing technology, the current state of expectations is too high. Strict AI monitoring that tracks traits such as work performance, movement within the workplace and tone of voice when speaking to customers only views improvements as a surpassing of set expectations instead of comparing the quality of work by an employee to that of others in the workspace.

As future employees in an ever-changing market, it is essential that we work on advocating for ourselves and establishing very clear boundaries with our employers concerning the hours we should and shouldn’t be contacted within from day one. Employers will continue to monitor workers — that won’t go anywhere — but it is OK to ask why, where this information goes and how it assesses the work you do. No matter how much technology advances, there’s nothing artificial about your intelligence, so don’t let robots be the sole determiner of your worth in the workplace.