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Is Smartphone Acceptance a Dumb Move for the Workplace?

If you come from a time when the dictionary, the yellow pages, and the local library were your go-to resources for getting information, you may still be astonished at how the World Wide Web has woven itself into our daily lives. Instant answers, infinite resources, useful and useless knowledge—all a couple of finger taps away.

 These days, most of us can't imagine how we would conduct our work (or our lives) without use of the Internet. The majority of businesses, which once might have blocked or limited access to their employees, don't even bother anymore—the benefits and efficiencies are just too great (not to mention that our smartphones are only at an arm's reach much of the time, anyway). For the good and bad, we've embraced technology in the workplace, but what's emerged from this is a growing concern about not just how much distraction is being created, but also where the boundaries lie.


Consider this: you might, during your workday, spend some time on your phone conducting personal business: social networking, shopping, or researching your next vacation destination. Sure, you're technically on the clock, but it's really just a couple of minutes, every so often—and, besides, it's not like the moment you leave work, work leaves you (like that text you received from your boss during dinner? Right.). In the end, it's a wash that everyone seems OK with. But is it really OK? The answer is yes. Maybe.

In a recent study by Kansas State University, researchers found that people who spent about 20 minutes on their smartphones during an 8-hour shift reported a greater sense of well-being at the close of the day. The study's author states: "Smartphone microbreaks are similar to other microbreaks throughout the workday: chatting with coworkers, walking around the hallway, or getting a cup of coffee. Such breaks are important because they can help employees cope with the demands of the workplace." At Baudville, we know the value of a good bit of goofing off, so this study just supports what we've been gathering over the last several years. But even we have moments when we wonder how much is too much. Is being too lax hurting productivity? Is abundant use blurring the lines too much between our professional and private lives? As a leader, you can help mitigate some of the fallout by setting your own standards—and making sure you're always walking the talk. This means limiting your smartphone use when on the clock, and also resisting the urge to contact your team after hours. Your example will set the tone for what is acceptable and what isn't.

 *Statistic source: fastcompany.com and k-state.edu


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