I covered in Wellbeing, Productivity - Part 1 the fact that we are all carrying ‘weapons of mass distraction’ aka our phones around with us and as management we must be cognisent of the impact that is having on the individual, the workplace and productivity. There is no doubt that the use of the smartphone has changed the office dynamic with people texting each other as opposed to getting up and having that face to face conversation. This has an effect on the quality of the information exchanged and of course does little for the bonding process that is a natural part of the office environment. We have all been witness to conversations that were interrupted by the smartphone with little or no regard to the fact we were there. You can see how quickly a light or ping easily takes a person away from the conversation they are present in to check what is happening on their phone even though they know it is less important than the conversation they are having right now. It is quite common for people to be texting while at the same time being ‘engaged’ with the person beside them. What we are seeing is the impact of being disconnected in a connected world, as in disconnected with the person or situation present but connected to another place of less importance.
Consider the last internal meeting you were at and the effect of phones on it if they were allowed. I know many organisations ask for phones to be put on silent but is that enough? What has happened when a phone vibrated or a light came on, all eyes looked at the phone but more importantly the natural curiosity had those attending asking what that was about. The net result was the energy was lost, the concentration was lost and it took time to get back on course. This simple distraction had an impact on engagement, productivity and creativity and unfortunately, is a daily occurrence for many organisations.
As employers it is important to be aware of the challenges many of our staff are facing on a personal level. In particular I am talking about bullying and addiction. As employers the welfare of our employees is not just a legal requirement but in the interest of everyone concerned. Workplace bullying has been a serious challenge for organisations and the introduction of the smartphone has only exacerbated the situation. Now people can hide behind the internet and cause distress to an individual with continual access via the phone. This presents a serious challenge for employers and the question is, how is it impacting your workforce?
On another level as humans many are faced with addictive personalities and again the phone provides not just more access for the addiction but a hiding place from those who are around them. For example, if an individual had an addiction to gambling it may have necessitated a trip or several trips a day to the bookies which would not go unnoticed. Now that addiction can be fed in seconds while in the workplace and the impact can not be known or managed easily. As an aside a Principal of a scool was talking recently about a 10 and a 14 year old who both had been diagnosed with a gambling problem. I mention this purely as it has a relevance to the future workforce and the challenges that need to be addressed.
We all have a part to play in the changing world of the 4th Industrial Revolution. There are huge opportunities and there is no doubt that technology has a part to play. We must be cognisant of the warning signs around us of the darker side of this mix of technology, science and communication coming together. I use the 3R’s which represent Recognise, Respond and Review. Recognise what is happening and make sure that you are briefed and kept up to date on the impact of this rapidly changing landscape. This will allow you to put in place strategies to protect you, your employees and your shareholders. Finally, review the impact of those strategies and have the processes in place that allow you to pivot quickly if necessary.
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 email@example.com or schedule a call here.