Americans aged 18–25 spend 5 hours broken up into 85 distinct sessions on their smartphone every day. Without their phones, they feel frustrated (27%), lost (26%), stressed (19%), and sad (16%). This is probably why 82% of employees say they keep their smartphones within eyeshot while working. It’s also why 55% of employees call mobile phones the biggest distraction in the office.
Psychologists agree that cell phone addiction is a workplace epidemic. Smartphones, for all they promise in increased productivity, tend to hurt rather than help people get work done. According to Bank of England Economist Dan Nixon, “the ability to pay attention [is] a key input into productivity,” and cell phones are the number one attention distractor.
He explains that to combat productivity loss related to cell phones, some companies “embrace single-tasking as a mode of working. Some experiment with doing away with email all together. Others help staff to train the mind, for instance offering courses in mindfulness.”
Other experts suggest that taking regular breaks at work away from cell phones can help restore the mind and increase productivity. In fact, people who turn away from work every 90 minutes report 30% better focus, 50% higher creativity, and 46% higher levels of health. These cell phone-free breaks should consist of exercise, conversation, and reflection.
The problem with taking breaks is that most employees don’t feel comfortable taking breaks because they fear their employer will see them as lazy. It’s important for employers to encourage employees to take breaks – 52% of employees say that being encouraged by their employer to take breaks will keep them from burning out.
Another good piece of advice is to limit digital correspondence. This means keeping a close eye one who’s being CC’d on emails. If a person is no longer relevant to a particular group conversation, it’s better to keep them out of it than to distract them with constant emails.
In the age of the smartphone, it’s crucial for small business leaders to rethink the role of smartphones in the workplace. Only by implementing effective productivity precedents can business owners expect their employees and themselves to work at peak productivity.