Updated: Apr 22
We are all walking around carrying weapons of mass distraction on our person, namely the smartphone. For those born at the beginning of the century it is part and parcel of everyday life and the thought of not having access to it continuously would not even be contemplated. This need to have access to our personal phones has spread across the generations and is driven by our need for instant gratification and our in-built reward system. In response to our need to have this device on us at all times many organisations have seen this as an opportunity to encourage their employees to use their personal smartphones for business purposes also. Other organisations have refrained from encouraging their employees from using their phones for business but are happy to allow them to use them during the course of the day for personal use.
This is something that would not have even been considered a generation ago even if the technology had been available.
Most organisations frowned upon family life interrupting the work of their employee which on the surface may seem old fashioned but perhaps not when we consider where we are today.
Lets for a moment consider what happened in the past in relation to phones. As an employee you went to work, had access to a company phone which was for company business only and when you left the office you left the phone there. You would not have been expected to take a business call at home and so it did not happen.
From a wellbeing perspective there was a clear line between work and family life which for most allowed employees to charge their batteries as they enjoyed their family time.
With the use of personal phones in the workplace we are led to believe that people are more agile and that it is a win win situation for everyone. On the surface that looks reasonable but once you examine the impact of this strategy you see a different picture.
The employee is now expected to be available outside of business hours which now intrudes into personal and family time. Emails come in from senior colleagues and customers at all times of the day and night and even though the employee is told that there is no rush in dealing with this the reality is something different. The employee feels under pressure to respond as a delay may impact negatively on their annual assessment. This need for instant gratification is putting unnecessary stress on employees which is also delivering a poorer outcome.
What is not being understood is that having employees work these abnormal hours is actually counterproductive. According to the Harvard Business Review “There’s a large body of research that suggests that regardless of our reasons for working long hours, overwork does not help us. For starters, it doesn’t seem to result in more output. In a study of consultants by Erin Reid, a professor at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business, managers could not tell the difference between employees who actually worked 80 hours a week and those who just pretended to. While managers did penalize employees who were transparent about working less, Reid was not able to find any evidence that those employees actually accomplished less, or any sign that the overworking employees accomplished more".
Here is the full article if you would like to know more
So what can we do to achieve our business goals in the most efficient way possible. I suggest the 3R’s which are Recognise, Respond and Review. Recognise the changes that are taking place around you and ensure that they are in the best interests of all concerned. We all want the optimum productivity but it needs to include the wellbeing of our most prized assets, namely our employees.
Respond means involving people within your organisation and allowing them the space to use current thinking to introduce strategies that serve the organisation best even though they may go against traditional practices.
Review is about staying abreast of what is happening and being agile enough to change. In a world that is moving faster than ever before those who don’t keep up will be left behind.
This is just one piece of a talk given by Alec Drew - The Business Expert called Disconnected in a Connected World. If you would like to know more please email firstname.lastname@example.org