Is Overuse of Smartphones at Work Killing Productivity? How to Help Your Employees Strike the Right Balance

  • Is Overuse of Smartphones at Work Killing Productivity

Research on local mobile phone usage shows that Australians interact with their mobile phones about 480 million times in a day – approximately 40 million times more than last year. Over 40% of Australians check their mobile phones even in the middle of the night.

Smartphones and tablets have permeated every sphere of our lives; we make travel and cinema bookings, check for news updates, organise our diaries and keep our pictures. While they are essentially meant as a communication aid, for most of us, they have become an integral part of our daily lives.

While these devices can undeniably be a crucial tool in some workplaces, they can also be addictive, encouraging compulsive use of social media and chat platforms. Many organisations are actively trying to discourage excessive use, or even use at all, of Smartphones at work.

Excessive Smartphone Usage at Work

Employers claim that more than 55% of distractions at work are caused by phones. Organisations also report that over 2 hours are lost everyday due to mobile phone usage.

Mobile phone usage has also been linked to sleep deprivation and eye strain. Inadequate sleep reduces focus and energy and greatly affects performance.

Many Australian employers are pulling out their hair in frustration. Indeed, it would be fair to say every bleep, blink and buzz emanating from our phones causes us to look away from work and onto our device, after-all, 83% of people respond to text messages within 90 seconds of receiving them. While a short interaction or text will not harm productivity, excessive usage certainly will.

How Do You Strike the Right Balance at Work?

It’s not possible to eliminate the use of Smartphones as connectivity is not a trend, it is here to stay. If you prohibit the use of Smartphones altogether, you may come across as a small-minded or even regressive manager. As at the same time, an organisation needs employee engagement and loyalty as well as focus and attention in order to be able to thrive.

Reports indicate that Australians are so addicted to their phones that many businesses have been forced to ban usage during work hours. These employers believe that this will improve safety while boosting productivity at the same time. According to a report in the Huffington Post, Australia, employers are well within their rights to implement disciplinary action in case an employee is found to be breaching company policy.

Teams should be working towards improving the bottom line and lack of concentration takes away from the underlying purpose. However, people are so attached to their devices, many managers avoid addressing the issue for the fear of alienating their team members.

How to Curb Mobile Phone Usage in the Office

The best way to resolve the problem is to have a firm and consistent mobile phone policy in place. For example, employers can consider allowing mobile phone usage during break hours and lunch etc. You can consider offering incentives to employees to stay off their mobile phones. If an employee has a genuine problem, such as a sick family member, then you may want to allow them to use their phones on that day.

You may also have stringent rules for employees performing physically riskier jobs, such as driving forklifts or cranes, as the phone is a proven distraction. Lapses in concentration in such situations could lead to serious injuries and accidents. In a recent incident, the Australian Fair Work Commission upheld the decision to dismiss an employee found guilty of using his mobile phone during work hours when company policy clearly disallowed it.

Similarly, if you have employees in a customer service or frontline role, please encourage them to keep their mobile phones switched off. Customers are understandably frustrated finding employees glued to their phones instead of attending to their queries.

Our experienced team at ESN helps identify potential problems and negative power dynamics in your workplace that impact productivity, well-being and unexplained staff turnover. We use our extensive human resource training and an array of modern tools to offer innovative and empowered solutions to our corporate clients.

References:
https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/HealthyLiving/mobile-phones-and-your-health
https://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2016/01/15/phone-ban-workplace_n_8975828.html
https://10daily.com.au/news/tech/a180922csq/40-percent-of-aussies-would-choose-more-mobile-data-over-running-water-20180922