We now live in the post-digital age – we are all exposed to new technologies which have reshaped our everyday lives. In the month, up to December 2016, it is estimated that there will be 42.4 million smartphone users in the UK. In January 2017, the Labour Force Survey found that there were 31.85 million people in employment. When there are 10.55 million more smartphones per user than there are employees in the UK, it becomes clear how and why the smartphone has changed our day-to-day working practices — but is it for better or for worse?
Research suggests that the younger generation have become reliant on their phones, with 7 out of 10 18 to 24 year olds checking their phones in the middle of the night. This post-digital generation are likely to shape the way smartphones are incorporated into working practices in the future.
Together with United Carlton, providers of office copier solutions for the North East, we establish just why it might be a better idea to let this generation use their smartphone in the workplace, as opposed to sticking to recent studies that claim using a smartphone in the workplace is unproductive, insecure and inefficient.
Despite using them themselves, employers generally don’t have a positive attitude toward smartphone usage within the workplace. This is down to the fact that most employers simply view the smartphone as a distraction that reduces an employee’s ability to complete a task by up to 20 minutes at a time.
Whilst an employer has the right to introduce rules and company’s policies where they feel is necessary, it seems employer’s also feel compromised in their ability to write company policy on mobile phone usage, as one small business expert claimed that business owners are ‘worried staff will spit the dummy at a mobile phone policy,’. However, to counteract this, they suggested that employers ‘should simply show them the math and staff are likely to co-operate because they don’t want to see the company go under or lose their job.’
Research conducted by the University of Surrey has suggested that 11% believed that it was unacceptable for a mobile phone to be turned on during a meeting, and a further 80% believed that it was inappropriate to read or send text messages whilst in the company of other colleagues or their boss. Although, this may be because employees and employers alike are preoccupied in working practices that discourage the use of smartphones, and don’t yet realise the productivity benefits that a younger generation of smartphone users can accrue for business.
If employers are willing to adopt a BYOD culture within the workplace, then this could actually save employers time, which therefore helps to boost productivity. When employees are connected to a wireless internet network, they are able to complete tasks in ways that do not limit them to sitting at a desk or having to be in the office.
A study conducted by Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group claimed that ‘the average BYOD user across countries saves 37 minutes per week thanks to using their own device.’ This is because these users are working on the go and between ‘dead-times’ in the office when they aren’t stationed at a computer.
With this is mind, smartphone have been seen to save time in businesses across the globe. Users in the United States saved a total of 81 minutes per week by using smart technologies at work, whereas those in Germany saved four minutes per week. Contrary to popular belief, this suggests that globally, smart devices can aid rather than detract from productivity saving efficiencies. Furthermore, if smart device users are able to implement their own technologies into their working practices, then they are more likely to take work home with them – as these employees are working an extra two hours every day and sending 20 more emails every day. For example, many members of staff are now able to use their smartphone as a mobile printing device; when there is an compatible printer in range connected to the network, users can print from their device without the need to install software to do so. This frees up time during the day as users can print from anywhere in the office, without having to be stationed at their desk and printing from a desktop computer. Cloud storage and printing documents that aren’t saved to hardware are also freeing up the flexibility of working practices and allowing employees to work in ways that weren’t previously possible.
Whilst some employers are determined to keep smartphones out of the workplace as much as possible by ruling out the idea of a BYOD culture, they could be missing opportunities. If companies were willing to incorporate a BYOD culture, then they may see what some research validates as being a 16% boost in productivity over a 40-hour week, a 23% rise in job satisfaction and a 21% rise in company loyalty. If businesses aren’t willing to incorporate change into outdated processes, then perhaps these operational efficiencies may not be experienced by many for years to come.