Statistics show that over three quarters of employees within the UK are using their personal mobile phones during work hours which result in thousands of lost hours and an inevitable loss of productivity. Each person, on average, will use their phones for slightly over four hours in a 24 hour day. However, I am sure you know people who use their phones for either much less or for a significantly longer period of time. Nowadays, it seems that wherever you go, people are on their phones but is it really necessary?
The over usage of mobile phones is now a recognised behavioural addiction that can have a negative impact, just like any other addiction. Compulsive use of your phone, whether it is checking texts, scrolling through social media platforms or just aimlessly browsing can have negative consequences, especially when you are using it instead of working.
In some workplaces you will have a work phone which you will solely use for work purposes. Of course, many professionals will have their work phones with them at home for various reasons such as perhaps being on call or if you belong to a global organisation where they are on a different time schedule. Yet, in this busy modern world where technology is at the forefront of almost everything, personal mobile phones on someone’s desk are as common as a mug of coffee.
Each company will have its own policy on using personal mobile phones with some having much stricter rules than others. Many companies are more than happy to have your phone with you and to use it on designated breaks as long as it does not interfere with your concentration or your productivity, yet just knowing your phone is there with unread messages or new notifications can often prove too tempting. You may believe you are adept at multitasking but no one can use a mobile phone, even momentarily, and then at the same time give their full concentration to an email or a client for example. It is impossible, just look at what happens when people decide to drive and text.
There are both advantages and disadvantages for whether or not it should be permitted in the workplace. As mentioned above, constant connectivity with colleagues and clients, regardless of location in the world, is always a positive aspect - whether it is via work or a personal phones. Having immediate connectivity can certainly enhance and maintain professional relationships and can promote collaboration and productivity - if used for professional purposes.
With many professionals working remotely or away from the office environment, phones are often seen as a necessity. Employees can access important information and work based resources which can enable them to make fast informed decisions ‘on the go’ or to gather and monitor ever changing details, statistics, facts and figures. Also, speaking with clients on the phone is often seen as more personal and customer orientated than sending an email as it allows you to discuss issues in detail and to answer any questions there and then.
Mobile apps and tools can streamline various work processes such as project management, scheduling and communication, all which are necessary in many industries.
Most importantly, mobile phones enable you to ask or reach for help when you may require it so the safety factor can never be underestimated.
However…! Personal mobile phones are undoubtedly a massive distraction whether you are using it yourself or having to listen to someone else using it and can definitely lower productivity and disrupt colleagues.
There is also a very real risk of sensitive company data not being adequately protected which poses significant security risks if lost, stolen or if it ends up in the wrong hands.
There is a fine line between a good work life balance and while phones provide flexibility and a connection between work and your personal life, it can also lead to stress and burnout especially if your personal life is problematic or you have demanding family and friends. Try to have a boundary between the time you are fully focusing on working and use your break times and after work for using your phones.
Some companies monitor employee mobile phone usage which can also raise concerns amongst colleagues if they feel that they are doing more work than others and this can lead to an environment of conflict and distrust.
Each workplace should offer clear guidelines on the use of mobile phones which defines what is acceptable and what is not. Employers must strike a safe and healthy balance by implementing policies and practices which align with ensuring productivity and security are never compromised.