Even before the introduction of cell phones, employees everywhere have dealt with the conflict between productivity and distraction. Whether gossiping about last night’s television shows, going out on a smoke break, or just being bored at one’s desk, the struggle for concentration on the task at hand is suffered by almost everyone. Distraction at one’s profession is so old that even medieval scribes made doodles when they grew tired of their employment. The advent of computers and the Internet amplified this by providing things to do to distract oneself at work – how many of us remember playing Solitaire or Minesweeper?
Smartphones add a layer of complication to the struggle between being preoccupied and being productive at work. In some cases, smartphones and other devices can be tools that facilitate one’s job. This is especially true if the job is mobile or requires a lot of contact with clients or collaborators. The image of the executive always on their cellular phone with someone is prevalent because it’s how business is done these days.
On the other hand, smartphones can be one of the most distracting things in the office. Aside from the possibility of being interrupted by a phone call, there are so many apps and games available that it’s as if we are carrying an entire computer in our pockets. Add to that email and social media, and the potential for distraction from smartphones is one of the most significant factors to productivity.
The benefits and drawbacks of smartphones in the office are condensed in the infographic below. When used with discipline, smartphones can easily be a great tool for any business. This involves being mindful of the time you spend on your phone and avoiding getting absorbed by entertaining apps or social media. Will your smartphone be a tool at your job or will you let it outsmart you?