The super essential smartphone has completely taken over our lives. Not only has it invaded our personal space (in a recent survey of workers, 50 % said they checked email while in bed, and 38 % "routinely" checked it at the dinner table), but it has also affected our work life.
Employees are seen hooked to their smartphones during meetings, conferences or power lunches. Frequently checking emails, texting and active participation in social media during working hours is now a widely accepted way of life. If you have trouble believing us, read this survey result collected by a screen-lock app. The average user actually checks their phone around 110 times a day.
According to a report by Forbes, Millennials (Gen Y) who have had the early-aged exposure to technology, are addicted twice as much as Boomers. This is a shocking piece of news as few years down the line, Millennials will hold key managerial positions and will be authorised to make important business decisions.
Is multi-tasking effective?
Employees can respond to an email or a text during a meeting. They can even ask a question or two during the meeting and contribute when called upon. However, this multi-tasking can come at a cost. If they are not listening intently, they most likely will miss an opportunity to uncover important pieces of information or to contribute new information to the conversation. Switching back and forth between tasks results in a slowing down of the brain and can affect the quality of work.
The social etiquette
Though there is no written code of conduct on when and how to use a smartphone, there are expectations by which one is bound. When an employee takes out their phone in a meeting or during a conversation, it not only shows their lack of respect for the people present and the conversation at hand, but can indicate a lack of attention and willpower. Furthermore, it highlights a lack of business etiquette. Others can find this behaviour rude and impolite in general.
In a study conducted by USC's Marshall School of Business, a series of questions about smartphones usage were asked. The results revealed that:
- 86% think it’s inappropriate to answer phone calls during meetings
- 84% think it’s inappropriate to write texts or emails during meetings
- 66% think it’s inappropriate to write texts or emails even during lunches offsite
- High income professionals do not much approve of smartphone use in business meetings
- Millennials are 3x more likely to text and email during meetings than their Boomer counterparts
Keeping these results in mind, here are a few of our suggestions for smartphone use, that should help to prevent you from annoying your colleagues during work hours:
- Keep your phones/tablets switched off or on airplane mode during important meetings or discussions. An hour away from Social media or texting. The world won’t end with you doing so.
- If you can’t switch off your devices, at least turn off the sound notifications. The constant pinging sounds can be quite irritating for others.
- Do not answer your phone during a meeting unless it really is an emergency. It’s a rude way of announcing that someone else deserves your time more than those present.
- If an important call is expected, inform everybody beforehand. Excuse yourself and take the call from somewhere private.
- Instead of checking your phone every now and then, assign time for it. For example, during lunch or tea breaks.
- Keep your phone away and ideally out of sight (in your pocket, bag or purse). Placing your phone on the table indicates that you value IT much more than those you are with.
Remember, technology is a wonderful thing. It bridges gaps and closes distance. However, if you don’t manage it effectively, it can take over your life.
When abused, it can also prove harmful for your life, both personally and professionally.
So take back control of your life today.