What does instant gratification mean when it comes to the workplace? According to peoplegoal.com, it is defined as “the experience of satisfaction upon receiving reward immediately after an action. People desire to experience gratitude, fulfillment, or pleasure ‘immediately’ or without delay.”
In many instances, having information in front of us via the Internet provides acceptable instant gratification. For instance, you are sitting in a bar or restaurant having a conversation or partaking in trivia and a question comes up that you can’t answer. What do you do? Why, you grab your phone and look it up, of course. Voila! There’s your answer. Or perhaps after a long day at work, you want to watch the show you missed. Boom – turn on your smart television, and you can watch it immediately.
But when did we, as a society, start having expectations that people work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including holidays? For some, the sheer nature of their career choice necessitates being available beyond the typical 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule. For others, those hours are the window in which they work and that is it.
An acquaintance and I were exchanging emails last Friday that required a third party. By the end of the business day, we had figured out the following Monday, or so I had thought. On Sunday evening, an email came through that “clarified” the Monday appointment, but it was completely changed. There were new details and people involved that I was unsure should have been. Of course, the third-party person was carbon copied on the email, but with it being a holiday, who would have expected him to answer? Certainly not I.
Being a person who in at least one job worked only 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., I knew there was a good chance the email would not be responded to, much less read. Why should anyone expect that? If you’re answering to yourself, “Simply because I want an answer so I can move ahead with what I want to do or planned,” that is not OK. Your need for immediate gratification does not take precedence over a person who is not supposed to be working. Borderline selfishness comes to mind with those expectations.
Back to the example story . . . the following morning after reading this email, I shared my response and what I thought should happen since we did not have the third-party’s opinion. Rather than follow what should have been protocol, several hours later, my answer was met with argument and justification. However, I did not have my phone on my person as I was out weed whacking, digging thistles and deburdocking my horses.
Coming into the house early that evening, I was met with another email that an event I expressed should not happen, did. So, again, this person expected an answer from me immediately, and when one was not received, they did what they wanted.
Is the need for instant gratification becoming a problem in today’s society? Is the instant connectivity of social media, emails and instant messaging causing more harm than good? The changes in technology are not bad changes, but are they creating requirements beyond the expected in one another or coworkers who do not necessarily need to be working?
Kristen Asleson is owner of Midwest Virtual Assistants. Send comments and ideas to email@example.com.