According to a Pew Research Center study, 64% of American adults own a smartphone of some kind, up from 35% in the spring of 2011. Smartphone ownership is especially high among younger Americans, as well as those with relatively high income and education levels.
Another study shows that approximately 40% of US consumers who work for large businesses use their personally-owned smartphone for some work purpose.
With those numbers fresh in our heads, it’s worth asking the question, “Are smartphones helping or hurting productivity at your office?”
The answer isn’t necessarily a simple one. There are some definite pros and benefits for smartphone usage in the workplace. On the flip side, we bet you’ve encountered some issues with smartphones at work.
We’re going to discuss ways smartphones can help and hurt productivity and offer some suggestions for improvement when you run into issues.
First, let’s talk about the ways smartphones help productivity at your office.
- Employees can access their calendars and agendas from their smartphone. In many cases, this keeps people more organized.
- Employees can attend to tasks without having to return to the office. This eliminates commuting time, and so the end result is employees that are more productive. This remote access allows employees to do work they’d normally have to wait to do. There is a risk here, though, of employee burnout. Employers should put restrictions on how much work is done on off hours to avoid fatigue.
- Employees can enhance productivity by taking a break from the office. A change of scenery such as working from a local coffee shop for an hour can boost productivity. The smartphone helps this mobile worker.
- Researchers at Kansas State University found that giving employees micro breaks to text or play Candy Crush helped employees recover from some of the stress of their day.
Now let’s talk about the ways smartphones can hurt productivity at your office.
- The most obvious way is your staff spends too much time on their phones. Whether they’re texting, playing a game, surfing the web or trolling Facebook, smartphones are indeed a distraction.
- A Michigan State University Study found that smartphones can zap workers’ productivity when they used them late at night. This study found that employees who tried to cram in more work at night got less done at work the following day. Because smartphones keep employees mentally engaged into the wee hours of the night, it’s hard for them to detach from work, relax and fall asleep.
Ways to Improve Smartphone Usage
There are ways to help your employees use their smartphones for office productivity while eliminating the issues that may arise.
It’s important for employers to let their employees know there is a time and a place for work. Employers should give their employees a cut-off time. Perhaps it’s 7 pm. The Michigan study mentioned above suggests that using a smartphone after 9 pm has detrimental effects. So, they should absolutely be shut down then.
Employees can turn off push notifications in the evening so they aren’t getting pinged every five minutes. That keeps employees from responding to every ping like a well-trained animal.
The benefits of smartphone usage usually outweigh the bad. With smartphones, employees can work offsite. They can answer a work email while sitting at the park.
Most US workers are too busy to sit around playing games all day, so most employers don’t have to worry about too much goofing around. Plus, as we mentioned, a little phone downtime is good for the brain.
Smartphones allow a unique work/life balance never seen before. The trick is to let your employees know exactly what you expect. If you expect them to be available 24/7, let them know. If you expect them to turn off work for the day no later than 7 pm, let them know that, too.
Build an atmosphere of trust and teamwork with open communication so you can work through the smartphone issues as they arise.
Whether they’re using their smartphones for work or play, your employees will want to keep their phones protected with one of our Lite or Strong cases. They can increase their work productivity with the Proper Tilt Stand.