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MANAGING THE OFFICE

Smartphones sapping productivity at work

Technology helps workers stay connected while away from the office, but in many cases it is causing them to disconnect while in the office, leading to a negative impact on productivity.

According to a recent survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder, a global leader in human capital solutions, 19 percent of employers think workers are productive less than five hours a day. When looking for a culprit, more than half of employers (55 percent) say that workers’ mobile phones/texting are to blame.

The survey finds 83 percent of workers have smartphones, and 82 percent of those workers keep their phone within eye contact at work. And while only 10 percent of those with smartphones say their phone decreases their productivity at work, 66 percent say they use it (at least) several times a day while working.

“While we need to be connected to devices for work, we’re also a click away from alluring distractions from our personal lives like social media and various other apps,” says Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder. “The connectivity conundrum isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it needs to be managed. Have an open dialogue with employees about tech distractions. Acknowledge their existence and discuss challenges/solutions to keeping productivity up.”

Wasting time at work

When asked to name the biggest productivity killers in the workplace, employers cite cell phones/texting as the top issue, followed by the Internet and workplace gossip:

  • Cell phone/texting: 55 percent
  • The Internet: 41 percent
  • Gossip: 39 percent
  • Social media: 37 percent
  • Coworkers dropping by: 27 percent
  • Smoke breaks or snack breaks: 27 percent
  • Email: 26 percent
  • Meetings: 24 percent
  • Noisy coworkers: 20 percent
  • Sitting in a cubicle: 9 percent

The majority of workers with smartphones (65 percent) do not have their work emails on their smartphones. Employees who access their smartphone during work for non-work use spend time on these non-work related sites during work:

  • Personal messaging: 65 percent
  • Weather: 51 percent
  • News: 44 percent
  • Games: 24 percent
  • Shopping: 24 percent
  • Traffic: 12 percent
  • Gossip: 7 percent
  • Sales: 6 percent
  • Adult: 4 percent
  • Dating: 3 percent

The high costs of low productivity

How serious is the problem?

Three in four employers (75 percent) say two or more hours a day are lost in productivity because workers are distracted. Forty-three percent of employers say at least three hours each day are lost.

Productivity killers can lead to negative consequences for the organization, which employers identify as including:

  • Compromised quality of work: 48 percent
  • Lower morale because other workers have to pick up the slack: 38 percent
  • Negative impact on boss/employee relationship: 28 percent
  • Missed deadlines: 27 percent
  • Loss in revenue: 26 percent
  • Negative impact on client relationships: 20 percent

It’s not surprising then that 76 percent of employers have taken at least one step to mitigate productivity killers, such as blocking certain Internet sites (32 percent) and banning personal calls/cell phone use (26 percent).

Other efforts to mitigate productivity killers include:

  • Schedule lunch and break times: 24 percent
  • Monitor emails and Internet usage: 19 percent
  • Limit meetings: 17 percent
  • Allow people to telecommute: 14 percent
  • Have an open space layout instead of cubicles: 14 percent
  • Restrict use of speakerphones if not in an office: 13 percent
  • Increase height of cubicle walls to make it easier to concentrate: 8 percent

Editor’s picks:

Beware of HIPAA-related text messaging risks


Staff and remote access: more than patient information is at risk


What your staff is doing on the Internet and why you may want to allow it


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