We use them to navigate, meditate, write, read and even make phone calls – yep, life today seems almost unmanageable without a mobile phone. Yet a phone-free existence is one many employees today are now having to come to terms with, as businesses look to do away with unnecessary distractions and get back to basics.
Global heavyweights like FedEx have now begun to moderate their mobile policies, banning the use of personal cellular devices in the workplace so as to mitigate their disruptive effects. Now, considering the fact that for many a mobile phone is akin to a 5th limb, this might seem like something of an extreme measure. But when you think about it, these mobile-unfriendly enterprises might just be onto something.
Statistics show that the average person receives in the region of 20 text messages a day, accounting for a good thirty minutes of time that could otherwise be used productively. Half an hour might not sound like much, but consider the fact that each telephonic interaction breaks the flow of the task at hand, resulting in a further loss of around 25 minutes each and every time. Now add into the mix personal phone calls, quick Facebook checks, the occasional tweet about the state of the office canteen, and you’ve got a real productivity problem on your hands.
Over and above the obvious distractions caused by mobile’s myriad applications, the smartphone era is also breaking down relationships in the workplace. Where once colleagues might have congregated at the water cooler to discuss last night’s TV shows or catch up on the latest gossip, they now retreat into their isolated digital worlds, favouring mobile communication over good old-fashioned face-to-face interaction in most instances, even when colleagues are but a few feet away.
So what’s a business to do? Unfortunately, the solution isn’t quite so cut and dried, as mobile phones also offer undeniable benefits to enterprise, enabling employees to remain connected on the go, and facilitating seamless communication at all times. To do away with that entirely would undoubtedly compromise any business’s ability to compete on a global stage.
Perhaps it’s time we start looking at mobile phones a little differently. Think about it – you wouldn’t expect your employees to work off their personal computers in the office, would you? Surely the same policy should apply to mobile phones. After all, we are now performing more and more tasks on the go, spreading our workload across multiple devices as workplace boundaries become ever more fluid.
And sure it might seem a bit draconian to enforce an office-wide ban on personal mobile phones, but it’s not necessarily a bad idea. After all, it’ll allow you to enjoy some of these benefits:
ACTION OVER DISTRACTION
Let’s face it; we’ve all had moments when the incessant ring of a phone or the yacking of a colleague has made us see red. The fact that Cheryl in finance recounts every detail of her lunch to her poor husband doesn’t feel like it should be your problem, does it? Now imagine a world without unremitting notifications (accompanied by infuriating and inexplicably loud vibrations), excessively banal personal conversations and eternally distracted colleagues. Sounds quite idyllic doesn’t it? Your business’s bottom line would likely concur.
The fact that your employees’ professional and personal lives are inextricably connected on one device isn’t good news for workplace wellness. Without any defined barrier between spheres, your employees will struggle to achieve any sense of work-life balance, bringing their professional problems home and their personal problems to the office. By separating the two with different mobile devices, you’ll mitigate the potential for both disaster and distraction.
For a generation now accustomed to the ease of mobile phone communication, the thought of actually having to interact voluntarily with another human (IRL? OMG!) feels frighteningly overwhelming. And why bother, when you can simply jump on Facebook and chat with your equally unproductive friends about how aloof your colleagues are? The value of personal interaction in the workplace is invaluable, and can have an immense impact on office culture, team dynamics and even your bottom line. By mitigating the mobile effect in the office, you’ll encourage your employees to actually speak to each other, improving relationships and sewing the seeds for more successful collaborations down the line.