Will Nougat Save the Day?

Written by Nathan Brown

Look around the train in the morning, the carriage is filled with people on their smartphones; finalising presentations, scrolling through documents and answering emails.

Maybe you’re even guilty of doing the same, of trying to get ahead of the days’ workload or playing catch-up to the flurry of work from the day before.

It’s normal, it’s everywhere. But the ease at which our work life has access to and invades our life outside of the office is becoming more difficult to manage.

In late August, Android officially released a new 2016 operating system, complete with an array of interesting features: the sweetly-titled ‘Nougat’.

Some might be focused on the multitasking capabilities, the battery conserving functions or the long-awaited avocado emoji (finally!). But a less discussed new feature brings a glimpse of hope to an increasingly work-saturated culture.

The ‘work mode’ feature allows users to silence and disable notifications from certain applications the user deems to be work related. No more emails at 9.53PM, depending on your desired settings. In ‘work mode’, when you walk out the door, work doesn’t have to follow.

Aaron Bethune works at a large media agency and says he usually tries not to check his email outside of work.

“I get notifications about work when I leave,” he says.

“Work and personal usually blend together.”

Dr Erich Fein holds a Ph.D. in organisational psychology and is a senior lecturer at The University of Southern Queensland.

“The problem that people are on 24/7, is a huge issue and it is a very important thing to be dealt with,” he says. “It can be an intrusion on care, an intrusion on social relationships.”

Dr Fein thinks it’s not necessarily the amount of work people are doing that is the primary issue, instead, “the feeling work is so intense you can’t escape it… it leads to ill health and other problems in peoples lives.”

“Having the ability to get rested away from work is very, very important,” Dr Fein says. “It’s a pretty responsible thing for the Android people to be putting in.”

It’s difficult to tell how much companies would be willing to encourage this kind of feature and depends on the industry and broader work culture, but the impacts of technology are far reaching.

Claudia Long works several jobs and says she receives “Facebook messages, texts and Slack messages until about 10pm each night if not later.”

“Even on the days I’m not at that job I’m getting those notifications,” she says. “I’m mostly used to it now, although sometimes I wish I could wake up without having to think about my jobs.”

While broader work cultures take time to fix, Dr Fein says the ‘work more’ feature would be a good idea for many.

“Technology is a double-edged sword and we need to be careful how we apply it. I think this Android update is a really good step in the right direction.”

About the author

Nathan Brown