Daney Parker, Editor, PRmoment.com
Do you love your smartphone a little too much? According to Leah Jones, account manager at agency CommsCo, if so you are not alone. She explains the modern conundrum of mobile phones being vital to our work, but also a source of distraction: “There’s no doubt that many people are addicted to their smartphones, and with mobile phones often on desks and at bedsides, the temptation stays with you at all hours. Who doesn’t have their phone by their beds, even though it’s known to be bad for sleep? At work, smartphones can be a form of distraction and procrastination, but in the same vein, they also allow us to be connected to our colleagues and clients around the world. Because of this, they are both gift and curse.”
Fight the power
Jones believes it is vital to find a way to use phones, without them taking over your life: “We need to strike the balance when it comes to smartphones – you can easily slip into obsessive behaviour and the need to be connected, in fear of missing out on something. We also use them way too much for data and email, and not enough for what they were originally intended for. We need to talk to people more.
“As the saying goes, everything in moderation is probably the right call – they are incredibly useful for being up to date with social, potential crisis, emails and news – however, observing some sort of boundaries that mean you can dedicate time to other matters both for work and personally is an absolute essential to stay focused and happy.”
Striking a balance is easier said than done, and three PROs below explain just how compelling their mobiles are.
There are ways to combat phone addiction in the office and Naomi Aharony, managing director of agency Reboot Marketing, describes how her agency restricts phone use: “It became frustrating when I was talking to colleagues about work and they were either texting or on social media whilst I did so. Even though they would nod their head, I could tell they had not fully acknowledged what I said to them. This belief would later be confirmed in the form of misunderstandings and errors they would make in key reports and audits for clients. To combat this, we introduced a policy whereby employees could only use their smartphones for a five-minute block every hour, with a longer exception being made for emergencies. Since its introduction last year, the policy has done wonders. With the significant distraction of smartphones contained, our employees have not only become more receptive to what’s going on in our industry but more willing to positively interact with one another. “
Technology to fight technology
For David Alexander, managing director of agency Calacus PR, the solution to phone addiction is through using other smart technologies, plus a little willpower: “I use PushBullet, which can be customised to alert you via your desktop of notifications you wish not to ignore. I also have WhatsApp on my computer, so my phone can remain out of sight unless I get a call.
“What is more problematic is the use of a smartphone habitually when away from the working environment. I try and limit the number of times I check it out of hours unless I have a major event or campaign going on. People can call if it’s urgent but otherwise, it can become too all-consuming.”
The reason our smartphones are so enthralling is because they offer us instant gratification, by connecting us to other people and information. However, as speedily as they connect us to people far away, they disconnect us from the people we are actually with. Like any addiction, it is hard to break your connection to your favourite device, but it is worth making the effort if you don’t want to p*ss off everyone around you. But enough about that, must dash, I’ve got a text to attend to…
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