Always Online: Do Smartphones Ruin a Work-Life Balance?

Essex-based insurance company loveit coverit have conducted a survey of over 300 workers, examining their use of smartphones at work and their overall work-life balance.

  • 4/5 professionals use their smartphone to aid their work
  • Less than half of workers feel that they have a healthy work/life balance
  • 76% of people identify their smartphone as an ‘important’ element of their work

Smartphones are increasingly versatile, often taking on many of the qualities and features that our computers offer us. Not to mention the innovations we see year-on-year. Mobile phones are quickly becoming more integrated with our professional lives – exceeding the singular use of a communication device. However, with this integration and innovation, we’re seeing an increase in how important smartphones are to our working lives. So the question has to be asked: how do we separate the two, and how much do smartphones impact on our ‘work-life’ balance.

The survey revealed that 80% of individuals use their phone in relation to work, whether this is on occasion or with notable frequency. But, of course, 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.

But our digital preferences are not contained to our contracted working hours alone, indeed ¾ of individuals admitted to checking their smartphone for work purposes whilst enjoying their free time – demonstrating the temptation to blur the professional with the personal.

The Positives

Evidently, many individuals find their smartphones to be a notably useful tool when it comes to their occupation. In fact, utilising a mobile device can enhance your productivity by providing:

Further communication opportunities

With over 80% of respondents highlighting the benefit of communication features, this has undoubtedly become a prominent advantage of professional smartphone use. Our devices allow us to connect with others no matter the situation – so whether you’re in bed, on the train, or perhaps even at the gym, you can efficiently use your time to make progress with your professional communications.

Alternatively, the enhanced communication options of a smartphone ensure that if something of great urgency were to occur, you would be able to reach those involved to help find a solution.

Remote working capability

Advancements within smartphone technology have made it so individuals may access, and work on, documents away from their desktop – which can be of particular use if your job requires frequent mobility. Having a device that can run applications such as Word, Excel or PowerPoint means that you can make progress as and when you need to outside the office.

Activity/Screen Time tracking features

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.

However, our data demonstrated that perhaps this tracking functionality is not yet fully appreciated as 52% of respondents are not using it – whether this is down to a lack of desire or lack of knowledge is unclear. Furthermore, of those who do use a tracking application, 21.2% identified that they were not deterred from working outside of contracted hours.

The Negatives

Although having remote access to our working documents, professional contacts and daily calendar can be of benefit to us, it’s important to recognise the corresponding risks and concerns. When opting to use your phone in this capacity, it’s vital to ensure:

Striking the Right Balance

There are a number of actions that both employees and employers can take in order to create a more balanced and sustainable working environment.

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 structure an in-office smartphone policy that regulates their use

This doesn’t mean that managerial staff should enforce an absolute ban on smartphones, as that would likely do more harm than good, but some guidelines for employees to refer to can address any particularly noteworthy issues.

Should these measures fail, it is equally as important to consider purchasing a separate phone that is solely used for professional purposes. This means that when you’re having downtime on the weekends, or weekday evenings, you can put that device to one side and not be worried by any incoming notifications.

Create an open dialogue to discuss these matters

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.

This will hopefully increase job satisfaction and productivity.

About loveit coverit:

Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, loveit coverit is a trading name of Pier Insurance Managed Services. Providing mobile phone and gadget insurance for almost 30 years, the company has insured over 900,000 devices to-date and all claims are handled by their UK based, in-house team.

Author: Editorial Team

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