There used to be a raging debate about mobile phones in the average office – in the days where we all sat at our own workstation, with our own dedicated phone line, there was no reason for most of us to have our mobile phones out on the desk. We used our mobiles to arrange our private and social lives, not to manage our work (travelling salesmen excluded!).
They were unnecessary; the familiar beep of a new text message was an interruption, a hindrance to the art of focusing our thoughts. Of course, the lines between working hours and social time have significantly blurred since, and what’s more, the mobile phone has evolved rapidly in usage, too. We’ve also reached an interesting time where the mobile is so ubiquitous that many people don’t even possess working landlines anymore, and some offices have followed suit.
Enter the Smartphone
Enter the smartphone and all its capabilities, and it’s easy to see why so many employers are no longer against a mobile laying around on the desk – in fact, many are actively encouraging their workforce to utilise the capabilities of their smartphones for work purposes (or providing smartphone contracts for employees). It’s true – we’re addicted to our phones.
With the new variety of function that smartphones have provided us, we’re using them more than ever, in completely different ways. The average adult reportedly spends 3:15 hours a day on their mobile, not including voice calls. That means most of us are at least sneaking a cheeky scroll through Instagram or the latest news headlines at our desk.
The average adult reportedly spends 3:15 hours a day on their mobile, not including voice calls.
Indeed, many might be doing much more: 68% of UK smartphone owners use their device to check email, and with our rapidly-changing working style including more on-the-go activity, while flexible working and desk sharing rule our offices, it makes complete sense that our pocket-sized devices would be our first choice to manage our inboxes.
68% of UK smartphone owners use their device to check email
With flexibility and the increased usage of smartphones at work comes a few problems – for many of us, the worst nightmare is a flagging signal, and globally, nearly two-thirds of employees would prioritise better Wi-Fi capability in the workplace, while half would like better mobile signal. This is something that business leaders should be wary of, since encouraging the smartphone as a work tool is rendered largely pointless if employees cannot properly access their uses.
Globally, nearly two-thirds of employees would prioritise better Wi-Fi capability in the workplace
Of course, there are other downsides to this new era of mobiles in the workplace. When previously they were out of bounds, they’re now welcome, and that can cause problems. Some workers report feeling chained to their work via their smartphone notifications, while others have forgotten how to put away their phone when it’s so accepted in the office.
The result? We’re all checking our emails and other platforms A LOT, and possibly even too much. In Asia Pacific, 55% of mobile workers wake at least occasionally in the night to check their smartphone or tablet, while 27% of Europeans do the same, and a shocking 4% wake every single night to glance at their notifications.
That cannot be good for our sleep! It may be sensible to exercise a little bit of caution over our usage of mobiles, particularly since there are some warnings about the overuse of them, given the bright blue light that emerges from the screen. Despite this, there is certainly a strong argument for the smartphone to continue to be a pillar of our work (and personal) lives, and business leaders who still consider them to be a distraction would do well to recognise the flexibility and connectivity they can provide.
Sunita Pachova I Corporate Development Manager I Condeco