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Smartphones are everywhere. You go to the supermarket, people are on their phones, you go to the gym, people are on their phones. Go into the office? People are constantly on their phones. All that phone use cannot be in the best interest to organizational profitability. The question becomes, do smartphones help or hurt business? Let’s get into it.
Let’s start with the trickiest bit of this first. Smartphones are a distraction, pure and simple. In fact, according to one survey, employees average about 56 minutes per day on their phones while they are in the office. This equates to a massive productivity leak for many businesses, but just when you think it isn’t equitably fair for the employer to pay for time employees spend scrolling through Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, responding to personal emails, and browsing websites blocked by the company’s content filter, employers aren’t totally innocent in this situation.
The modern employer is the first person to take advantage of the computing prowess of these devices. Since the modern company tries to do more with less, many employers expect their workforce to always be available; and, that means always. Moreover, managers and executives aren’t any different: they are always on their smartphones too!
Some organizations feel the need to try and strategically design policies to keep people from using their personal devices for personal use on company time. These same people don’t have a problem with them using these devices for the benefit of the organization, just not for personal gain. This is where policies go wrong. They create archaic and completely unrealistic policies and are shocked when even their best performers can’t avoid their phones for long.
If you want your staff to limit their phone use at work, you have to make that clear. Some companies have implemented a policy that provides small breaks in which they can use their phones, but most companies have come to understand that this isn’t a trend and that phone use is part of day-to-day life. Locking down people’s ability to connect with the outside world for eight (or more) hours a day is only going to serve to bring negative reviews from your team, so your best bet is to embrace it, and realize that as long as your expectations have been communicated properly, most employees won’t take advantage.
While the smartphone may be a bit of a distraction to your in-house staff, what happens the moment people leave the confines of your business? They use their phone. In fact, I doubt very much if they make it out to their car or onto the train without a full assessment of the messages sent by applications, people, and others. How long do you last without checking yours?
This brings us to the point that needs to be hammered home. The more people use mobile devices, and specifically smartphones, the more they are willing to use it for work, off the clock. You don’t think this is true? If you are a business owner or manager, try texting, emailing, or messaging a member of your staff outside of work. They may not appreciate it, but more than likely, they will respond. This effectively extends them to “on-call”, a state that was typically reserved for people with jobs that the public depends on like doctors, lawyers, and the like. Now if you have a question about a project that just can’t wait until the morning, there is an excellent chance that you will be able to get the answer you seek directly from the person who worked on a task last. That can have a lot of benefits for your business.
Mobile malware has become much more prevalent than ever before, so much so that it can be a major problem for your business. The best way to mitigate liability from this is to design and enact a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) strategy that takes advantage of cutting-edge mobile device management tools. Your staff may scoff at first, but if their two options are using their data or using your wireless network, they will opt in, guaranteed.
If you need some help ensuring that you are doing everything you can to take advantage of your staff’s reliance on their smartphones, we can provide you with all the information, resources, and technology you need to make employee smartphone use work for your company. To learn more, call us today at (206) 709-9556.