Do smartphones boost productivity?: Unbalancing our work life blend


I had some interesting comments after my post the other day showing smartphone market share ratiosThe graph obviously shows US data – and Symbian isn’t called out specifically as a smartphone, is it therefore a feature phone? 

It would be interesting to view this from a global perspective – but of course, the stats are hard to gather in this way.  We look at the world the way we see things.   

In the UK we see a lot of Android phones here  – but is that the case in other parts of the world?  It’s difficult to get an all up view of the market – every region has such differing usage patterns – but here in the UK, we’re not usually seen without a mobile device of some sort in our hands…

The Grapevine has an interesting post viewed from a UK specific perspective.  In order to work smarter – not harder, staff pressure companies to integrate technology and are pressurising their bosses to give them smartphones and make them more productive.

In our world of always on, always connected, always locatable, always available, the question must be:

Are you always productive?

…or are you using your smartphone to pass the time because you’re bored?

Does owning a smartphone make you more productive at work?  Does the fact that you’re constantly available online make for a better work life blend?  Here are 5 things to think about and consider whether you are actually productive for work -  or not

      1. If you triage your email as soon as you wake, are you really focusing on your work?  Is your home life equilibrium being compromised by the fact that you’re ‘on duty’ as soon as you get up?  How many hours of home life each week are you spending with your thoughts and activities focused on work?
      2. If you commute into work by train, do you really focus on that important business email that you’re sending via your smartphone?  Do you send an abbreviated message because you can’t face typing the full email with links etc. from your hand held device?  Do you really read that email, or do you scan it to get to the next email in the list?
      3. Do you check your social feeds from your device at home?  Do you check your social feeds in the office?  If you’re checking your email at home, then surely it’s ok to check your social feeds at work?  Does  time spent on each activity balance out 50: 50? Do your social activities interfere with your concentration at work?
      4. Do you walk along the road checking your feeds on your device?  Have you ever bumped into someone because you were distracted?  If you have a free few moments – say you’re waiting for someone, do you stand and wait, or do you check your email, or social feeds
      5. Do you limit the time you spend checking your email?  Do you work for your company 8 hours a day, 10 hours or more?  Are these hours really productive? Are you really happy with your work life balance?

Smartphones are an amazing add on to our digital life.  They are a enabler for our thirst for knowledge and the need to be connected to our contacts and friends.

But do we honestly work any more efficiently with them?  or do they just add to our ever increasing workload as we struggle to keep up? What do you think?

Eileen Brown is a social media consultant and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business.

Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Image credit: Flickr



6 thoughts on “Do smartphones boost productivity?: Unbalancing our work life blend

  1. Daniel Bobke

    It really is all about balance. The more inputs we allow to connect to our circuitry, the more overload we will encourage. The human brain only has so much ability to handle and process all the interruption technologies we stick in front of our faces. Alerts warning of a new work e-mail, and update to Facebook, a new Twitter post, a new text message, and a new message in your Gmail account cna make you look like you are having an aneurism at your desk!

    I set aside certain times of the day to answer e-mails – there is rarely anything urgent enough in an e-mail to require immediate response. I will check personal e-mail on lunch break and probably check in with Twitter during that same time.

    It requires discipline – and I am not perfect by any means. We have to control the technology – not the other way around.

    1. eileenb Post author

      You make some good points – it is all about discipline. But how many of your colleagues have that discipline I wonder?
      It’s so easy to become totally immersed in our online social activities that we can lose site of our ‘other lives’
      …And balance is something we strive to achieve in our lives..
      Thanks for your comment 🙂

  2. James

    They’re good questions because like most technology smart devices have a risk and benefit.
    Depending on what we beleive about smartphones (and similar devices) we focus on one and not the other.

    1. eileenb Post author

      Yeah – good points James – but how many of us just ‘can’t’ put the device down in our allocated leisure time? Its so hard to get disciplined when there’s a fascinating up to the moment world of news and snippets going on right there in your device…
      So hard… so addictive 🙂

  3. Tim Callaghan

    Good post Eileen.

    What I’d say about my personal experience, is that I’m always available, but not always working.

    What the “always-on” capability provides, is a bigger space to conduct your workloads within. This can mean one of two things; more flexibility, or more work. Providing I manage my workloads properly, the capability shouldn’t be a hindrance. I agree that, when things get busy, this work style can mean working countless hours. Working countless hours continually though, means you are doing something wrong. I’ve had my share of 80 hour weeks, but balanced with much slower weeks, where the answer to a request is either “no”, or “yes, if you don’t mind waiting”.

    1. eileenb Post author

      You’ve made some great points with your comment. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with the term “manage my workloads” often we get co overwhelmed with the amount of things we need to do – and the limited time that we have available that we lose all track of whether the task can actually be done. We try to juggle work and home life – often to the detriment of one or the other.
      Its a hard choice to make – and often we don’t realise we’re doing it – hence the need to really manage our time..
      Thanks again for taking the time to comment.. 🙂

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