We all love our mobile phones to some greater or lesser extent, with the immediacy of communication that it allows us (and the problems it creates by the demand), we all have different attitudes to when and how to use it.
For our business, it allows us huge flexibility and we will often take calls in the evening if there is an urgent need that requires a quick response. Technology allows us to do this without disrupting our home lives too much, or does it? There are those of us who leave the telephone on the wrong floor in our homes when we’re trying to avoid talking to somebody, and there are others who cannot bear to be separated from their device and even take it with them on a loo break. Perhaps they don’t want someone else to pick it up and see what they’re up to or maybe it has become simply an extension of their personal being. This goes as far domestically, as it does in the workplace.
If a couple has different uses of the telephone, then it can cause friction and couples find themselves arguing about who is listening and engaging, and who is not.
When we run workshops on time management (and you cannot manage time, only yourself), one of the things we focus on is the use of technology and the need for leverage in the workplace. Sometimes technology can work against us and we can become so addicted, depending on our natures, that technology gets in the way.
Although the use of mobile phones and different applications enable us to find solutions to problems very quickly, nonetheless, in the documentation we supply for clients, it is very important to draw clear lines about the use of technology, whether laptops, whether the internet or the physical use of telephones themselves.
If you use an app that analyses your screen time, the hours you have spent on your phone, it is extremely interesting and can be broken down into various elements. Our concern though, is that individuals who are constantly checking their phones are often distracted from the important things in the workplace and therefore tend, as is a natural trend anyway, to deal with the trivia and be distracted from major projects that actually take the business forward.
If individuals are ‘stealing’ a large amount of work time, then it is not only the time lost on checking the phone that is important, but the lost opportunity cost where individuals cannot be doing their core role, e.g. selling.
The temptation to become distracted becomes even more prevalent where working is remote and an even greater amount of self-discipline is required generally, as well as in relation to mobile devices.
From an HR perspective, therefore, it is very important to have clear guidelines on the use of technology, the use of software, time spent on devices and what is acceptable in terms of productivity. The onus is on employers to make sure that guidelines are clear, and it is sometimes the case that employers don’t really like remote working because there is, in that remote working, an inherent need for greater management of outputs. There is a fine line, too, to tread here, as we do not want to instil a culture of ‘big brother is watching you’ but rewarding productivity can be an effective mechanism for driving the behaviours you want, while also helping employers not to breach clearly laid down policies on the use of personal software during the working day.