Electronic Overload Frustrates Critical Focus

04th Apr , 2017

The use of smart phones, tablets and PCs to access emails, texts and the myriad of social media during work hours, is becoming a drain on the resources of organisations.  The loss of productivity and the increase of safety risks, both result from the growing electronic distraction.  This has prompted many business owners and company leaders to introduce policies banning the inappropriate use of devices and particularly those being used to access non-work related media in business hours.

Smartphone for many is a device addiction and is so serious that experts have coined a term for the fear of being without a phone. Nomophobia – no-mobile-phobia.

Like in many countries, Australian employers are within their legal rights to discipline staff for breaching their internal policies on device use, and information access during working hours or using company devices. Therefore, businesses can ban inappropriate electronic usage in a bid to reduce the distraction, particularly with texts or checking social media.

For example, employers can implement a no-mobile phone policy. These policies and related rules must be stated to new employees during induction. Established employees need to briefed on these conditions (and any changes) plus be given the reasons for the ban on mobile phones by explaining the loss of productivity, safety concerns and any other relevant reasons.

This device and social media access and usage policy area, has created a new aspect for businesses to manage and has started a whole new industry for businesses and lawyers, to adopt and implement device and data access, corporate policies and resolve any arising disputes.

It’s not just smartphones or other devices that hinder productivity.  Email is another culprit affecting everyone in the workplace.

Many businesses in the USA and UK, have participated in experiments that ban email for a single day or a specific period during the day.

Example of a policy: A non-email Friday

The ‘No-email Friday’ is a concept whereby every Friday for one month, business owners or executives resist the urge to check their email.

This is particularly challenging for any business owner or executive, who are in the habit of checking their email – albeit business related- up to ten or more times a day. They typically use their desktop, phone, tablet or even smart watch to access their messages across email and social media platforms to work out just what, if any are important.

Most found the challenge of restricting their own access to email very difficult at first, but many made the necessary adjustments e.g. by not getting email notifications.

Some participants found they could focus more strategically during the email absent periods, as they did not have the constant interruptions to respond to the many and diverse issues, that could be handled operationally later.

On the other hand, some participants for no-email Fridays simply deferred catching up on their hordes of emails to the next day on Saturday, which was also considered somewhat counter-productive.

Irrelevant emails

Non-business related email that are not removed automatically to junk or filtered out as SPAM e.g. personal offers or opportunities, are an ever-present evil time waster.

Most email from unsolicited sources are a constant challenge for everyone.  You are damned if you do not “junk” or mark as SPAM and damned if you don’t.  You need to bite this bullet, make the decision to mark your email and also improve your SPAM filters.

Unwanted phone calls

Unwanted and unsolicited calls can also be filtered out by telephone systems and these should also be used to reduce the background interference and noise in the office.

Getting the right policy

Restricting the use of electronic media and devices may not suit all industries or individuals, as there must be communication in the case of emergency, urgent business related issus or other risks.  However, developing policy is about getting the right balance, and tweaking what fits with the business and its individuals.

An International Business Mentor or Coach

An International Business Mentor or Coach can help with this minefield of electronic challenges by helping you assess priorities and clarify the important issues in a process to develop and implement an electronic device and data usage policy, that suits the business.

To find out more, please call us today on (03) 8686 9192.

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