Health system CEO orders 'phone jail' to set boundaries

Benjamin Anderson is headed to the helm of Hutchinson (Kan.) Regional Healthcare System — but not without precautions in place, he shared via LinkedIn

Mr. Anderson ordered a lockable cellphone "jail" on Amazon to help him focus on family — specifically, his four children — when the workday is done. The device mounts on the wall and restricts the user's access to a mobile phone for a pre-set period of time. 

"I'm heading back into health system executive leadership … work that has historically been very difficult for me to turn off," Mr. Anderson wrote. "It's more about my own struggle with boundaries than the work itself."

Mr. Anderson isn't the only CEO to struggle with balance, particularly the pressure to make oneself available to stakeholders 24/7. Jeff Comer, PsyD, CEO of Show Low, Ariz.-based Summit Healthcare, recently discussed the problem with Becker's, attributing some of executives' chronic stress and burnout to the never-ending stream of communication. 

Mr. Anderson and his family will move from Colorado — where he most recently served as vice president of the state's hospital association — back to Kansas for the CEO job at Hutchinson Regional. He hopes his new cellphone locker will display his commitment to his kids and serve as a tangible reminder of his goal: home-life balance.  

"[The kids will] know they're worth it when they see their dad lock up his Apple device from 6:30pm and until they fall asleep each night," Mr. Anderson wrote. "They're worth the purchase of a landline with a phone number known by just a few people at work who would only call in case of a legitimate emergency. They're 10, 10, 9, and 8 and they've never seen this consistent boundary from their dad. I'll admit some nervousness here." 

"Feel free to reach out and ask how it's going, but you're less likely to catch me between supper and bedtime," he added.

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