Mobile phones are quickly becoming more integrated with our professional lives – often exceeding the usual personal, more social use. However, the question has to be asked: how do we separate the two, and how much do smartphones impact on our ‘work-life’ balance.
Toby Stubbington, Managing Director of loveit coverit, said: “Mobile working certainly has its benefits. But companies must ensure they think through how they introduce it and design well-balanced policies that take into account both the risks and advantages to guarantee a win-win strategy for both the organisation and its employees.”
The survey revealed that 80% of individuals use their phone in relation to work, whether this is on occasion or with notable frequency. But the explicit benefits of utilising our smartphones in this capacity are numerous; ever-evolving devices allow us to access and edit work documents from a remote location, communicate with our professional contacts without restriction and additionally provide us with an amendable digital calendar. But what keeps working individuals glued to their smartphone?
The research looked to identify the most prominent functions that prompted individuals to utilise their smartphone for professional purposes. The research found: 33.22% of respondents did so for text messages, 26% frequently accessed their emails, and 25% used their device primarily for calls – demonstrating a stark correlation between communication and professionalism.
Somewhat surprisingly, only 4% of respondents most used their device for booking appointments or other such organisational tools – in fact, more individuals claimed that access to social media platforms was of more importance than this. This might indicate that the use of smartphones in the workplace is more vital in day-to-day tasks for those in a tertiary occupation, and less so for those in more manual or traditional sectors.
Stubbington commented: “Our research shows that being constantly connected through your smartphone leads to an erosion of boundaries between work and non-work. Plus, mobile workers face increasing external pressures to work more effectively and efficiently throughout a working day or week. Given the widespread adoption of smartphones, text messaging, video calling and social media, today’s professionals mean it when they talk about staying connected to work 24/7.”
But our digital preferences are not contained to our contracted working hours alone, indeed three-quarters of individuals admitted to checking their smartphone for work purposes whilst enjoying their freetime – demonstrating the temptation to blur the professional with the personal.
Remote working capability
Many companies in the insurance sector have transitioned to remote working now, and the smartphone is a big part of that process. Handsets are bigger now, 4G is more widespread too, offering faster downloading of web pages and video content.
Features such as screen time and activity tracking applications allow individuals to autonomously assess how they are spending time on their smartphone. As a result, they can tangibly measure the time allocated to work-based activities, an important part of separating working time at home.
Companies need to recognise that constant connectivity does not equate to increased productivity. What is becoming evident to many employers is that although their employees are constantly connected, their productivity might not be enhanced. Therefore, it is vital the employers encourage healthy measures that allow staff to disconnect from work outside of working hours.
A simple way of doing so is by sending a short email to any ongoing communication chains that directly address any period of absence. By informing those involved, the individual will not feel as though they must make progress with any projects whilst on their own time. Not only does this allow them to take a well-deserved break, but it also ensures that they return to work with a fresh outlook.
Employers can devise and publish an in-office – or working from home – smartphone policy that regulates their use.
This might seem like a difficult task, but by establishing a trusted and open dialogue between employer and employee, a company may identify solutions that it may not have otherwise. Both parties can offer their own unique insight based on their working experience and therefore see a collective benefit.