As the pace of the business world continues to quicken, it’s leaving a trail of stressed, burnt-out, and unproductive employees behind it. The stats are there to prove it, with a recent survey revealing the majority of employees are now effectively cancelling out every day of their annual leave as they’re unable to put down their smartphones and tablets outside of working hours.
The same survey also found that those working long hours were three times more likely to feel stressed and that there is a very clear link between working long hours, health problems and subsequent exhaustion.
And it seems the smartphone is the source of the issue. So, while you might think mobile devices are central to the success of any modern business, their excessive use is spelling trouble for work forces across the world. Professor of Computer Science, Cal Newport, explains in his book, Deep Work, that smartphones have left our brains constantly distracted. With a non-stop avalanche of notifications popping up and distracting us, users are finding it increasingly difficult to focus on a single task.
Newport’s research shows that even when our smartphones and computers are removed, the impact they have on us lingers, as we continue to struggle to focus. He explains that our brains have in effect been hardwired to divide our attention between multiple different things at once. While this may be useful in some businesses, you’re probably still thinking that there are lots of tasks you need to get done that require your undivided attention. For organisations, overcoming this issue is paramount in the search for improved productivity and reduced stress among employees.
So how can you and your team enjoy the advantages of mobile phones, without getting overly distracted by them? Here are my three top tips:
1. Set Working Boundaries For Employees
Yes, this might seem counter-intuitive, but helping your employees disconnect can be a huge boon to productivity. In France, workers have now won ‘the right to disconnect’, meaning organisations of more than 50 people are now encouraged to set out charters of good conduct, providing guidance on the hours when staff are not supposed to send or answer emails.
Offering flexible working hours is another way to keep your workforce happy, with a recent survey revealing that millennials now prioritise striking the right work / life balance and the option to work remotely, over working somewhere with a sense of meaning or for a company that people admire. Why not give your staff the tech they need to work remotely and let them work more productively from somewhere that suits them best?
2. Stay In Control
In addition to ensuring you set out clear best practice guidelines for email use, you can also look to invest in mobile management solutions to help monitor device usage across your network – and, if needed, take more drastic action to avoid overuse.
Programmes such as SOTI MobiControl and IBM MaaS360 enable you to monitor and manage mobile phones within your business, so you know if one of your staff members has been emailing at midnight you can stop them! Going one step further, Amtel netplus mobility software features a geo-tagging function that allows you to set location and time restrictions, meaning your staff can’t work outside of the office during certain hours. It might all seem a bit big brother but these tools are an effective way of ensuring your team take a break once in a while.
3. Drop The Phone
Perhaps not entirely (!) but it would certainly be worth considering an old-style handset. The Nokia 3310 is back and ready to pick up where it left off! Although this solution might not work for everyone, there is a case to be made for using a simpler handset during certain periods of the day.
Limiting yourself to calls, texts and emails could increase your productivity and help you to deliver better work. While if you really are tied to your smartphone, why not consider putting it on silent mode or turning off notifications when you need to get a task done.
So, when you’re next about to hand out a new smartphone to your latest staff member or spot one of your team emailing way outside work hours, why not take a moment and consider how you could be better managing mobile phones within your organisation. It might just make the difference between productivity and procrastination!