Silencing the Smartphone

Description: some companies are adopting policies aimed at weaning employees from their electronic devices.


Date: Dec 31, 2012


A study conducted last spring by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project found that while mobile phones were valued as a way to stay productive, there were downsides to being available at all times. The nationwide survey of 2,254 adults found that 44 percent of cellphone owners had slept with their phone next to their bed and that 67 percent had experienced “phantom rings,” checking their phone even when it was not ringing or vibrating. Still, the proportion of cellphone owners who said they “could live without it” has gone up, to 37 percent from 29 percent in 2006. Read Rest of Story 

Questions for discussion:

1. Do you feel organizations would gain benefits by limited their employees’ exposure to mobile devices? Why or Why not?

2.  What is your best reason or evidence that mobile devices affect either productivity or non productivity in the workplace?


22 thoughts on “Silencing the Smartphone

  1. Sheri Durina

    I think there are benefits to having access to your Smartphone at all times and also benefits to scheduling in downtime. There are many determining factors: personal preference, workload, type of work, and existence of urgent deadlines. Many people simply cannot or choose not to turn off their phone. If you have the ability to answer or send emails at anytime, why not take advantage of that? Why not take care of work while you can, instead of thinking about it all night long and losing sleep. Perhaps a person needs to take care of business due to large workloads. Many people currently have workloads that simply cannot be completed during regular working hours. Perhaps people must travel for their work or must meet urgent deadlines, this may require access to their phones at all times. For the above situations I do not think it would benefit the organization a great deal to silence the Smartphone. If people are finding they are unable to find an adequate work-life balance, perhaps they may need to look at taking a break from their phone and emails. Some people choose not to have a Smartphone; this is what works for them. I think in the end, what will benefit the organization the most is to assist the employee in making the decision that work best for them.

  2. Sean

    I believe Organizations would greatly benefit by limiting their employees’ exposure to mobile devices. Limiting exposure to cell phones and PDA’s would enable, and encourage people to interact with their co-workers, friends and family in a face-to-face manor. The amount of time people spend on their phones these days has greatly increased, and this increase in time spent using a cellular device takes away from everyones mind being at rest for a certain period of the day. Being connected to their electronic device constantly takes a tole on a persons psychological well being, emotions, and happiness; and in turn ads constant stress, anxiety, and being overwhelmed with work related issues in their homes and their work place.
    With a mandatory break from mobile devices, employees have time to relax a little bit and be more productive with the work they face on a day to day basis. They would be more satisfied with the work they complete with the added productivity, less stressed out because they do not have constant contact with their work, and more active outside of their working environment.

  3. Kelsey Allan

    I do believe that organizations would benefit greatly from having a time in which their employees are limited from using their smartphone. This provides your employees with a healthier work and personal life balance. The main issue that comes forth for employees not being limited from using their smartphone all the time is that all they think about is work. This in the end can become stressful and you become less productive in the tasks that you are trying to accomplish. With setting these boundaries with how much time you can spend on your smartphone your employees can learn to enjoy their holidays and their family time.
    The best example of how your smartphone affects the productivity in the work place is that if you keep responding to emails throughout the night, then you never really left work. This will make this employee start to get frustrated with their job and never have any downtime. This in turn burns out this employee which causes there to be a lower productivity rate by that specific employee. However, as more employees start to get involved this becomes a never ending cycle of lower productivity within the organization.

  4. Jacqueline Wegener

    1. I do feel that organizations would gain benefits by limiting their employees’ exposure to mobile devices because there would be a healthier work life balance. If employees are not taking time to spend with family and friends they are going to become stressed out and eventually burn out. It is important to ensure that employees are able to have a healthy balance between their work life and their personal life and when the two begin to conflict there will be consequences for the organization. If employees are able to find a healthy work-life balance they are going to be more rested and rejuvenated and able to focus on their work when they are at the office. Constantly checking for emails, texts, and missed phone calls when an employee is off the clock wastes a lot of time and if they always have work in the back of their mind they are unable to focus on themselves and their personal relationships with others.
    2. I believe that if an employee is use to bringing their work problems home and are continuously responding to emails during the evenings and on weekends they are not going to be able to focus on their personal life and are not going to be able to cope with the stress that their job may cause. The increased stress levels from not disconnecting from the job during evenings and on weekends can lead to decreased productivity because employees will not be getting adequate sleep which will decrease their productivity and efficiency during work hours. Also, if employees are unable to separate themselves from work they are going to start bringing their personal problems to the office. With no separation between work and personal life there is the risk that the two will mesh together and employees will not be productive during work hours and the potential burnout could lead to reduced productivity and increased turnover.

  5. Thibaut La Porta

    1.I think that organizations gain in benefit by implementing hours when the professional phone would be switch off. It is important to think about something other than work, to clear your head. Take time to relax after work at home. So you can relax, do what you want, and you are happier. And when you go back to work, you can be into it without being stressed. After there are some exceptional situations like major contracts with big issues that may require a larger investment. But it should remain exceptional and for a short time. Indeed, as we can read in the article, an answer to an email can wait until tomorrow or the end of our holiday. We too much developed a culture of “everything now” because of globalization that is itself developed through the new forms of communications, and speed of information transfer. But it is not because that information can be quickly communicated this information is crucial and it needs a rapid and significant consideration.

    2.My best proof that mobile devices affect productivity in the workplace is that it has more mobile devices or way of communication can be more effective or totally the opposite, it is double-edged. Indeed, the more we can communicate and more can be answered in various media which in itself is a way to be effective. Mails, sms, calls to mobile phone or landline, fax … All these devices allow us to receive and respond, a smartphone can also make the most of these functions. But it may end up burdening us and we no longer find the time to do everything, answer to everything.

    Personal anecdote: In the article refers to “ghost vibration”, it has happened to me to have. He is also ever woke up in the night and make sure I had no notification on my phone. This is to reflect on the importance and the role of all sources of communication.

    PS: On the iphone there a function “do not disturb” which can be set at the request or schedule for our comfort when we really need such as night! 😉

  6. Chance Olsen

    1) I think that businesses would gain huge amounts of productivity if they could limit the time employees spent on smart-phones. I know quite a few people that have experienced the “phantom calls” and it does begin to affect them. Their sleeping habits are all messed up and they never can wake up feeling rested. People that are always on their phone are constantly checking for any missed calls, texts, or e-mails. All of this checking cuts into their life, and as Katie said below, “they are missing the little things in life.” I strongly believe that if employees would shut off their phones after work, they would be more productive, and will not be getting burned out as fast. The company would have happier and longer lasting employees.
    2) The reason that I think mobile phones are cutting into productivity is that people are losing the desire to be productive, because they can never get away. They work all day, then when they get home they are bombarded by e-mails, and business calls that it’s like they never got away from the office. They do this day after day, and weekends are no exception. People need a break to get a breath of fresh air and then they can start again.

  7. Josh N

    I find this to be a very interesting subject, and one that could definitely use a little bit more practical experience and observation research on before a definitive conclusion is drawn. I believe that a healthy work/life balance is extremely important, but had not before considered as deeply the implications of personal communication device on that balance. I think I would side with the opinion that “unplugging” more often is a good idea, although I totally understand the idea of on-demand productivity. I just feel that, as stated by the spokesperson from Daimler, turning off the emails and calls and leaving work at work can help individuals to be healthier and happier in their home and family life. I know first-hand the damage that technology can do in personal relationships, and although the benefits are enormous, they come possible detriments.

    As for productivity, I don’t know nor do I much care about how always being connected contributes – I don’t that productivity is the most important thing in life. That may not be entirely true, coming from a strict capitalist and egoist whose highest values tend to be hard-work and efficiency, but I also hold up there the value of responsibility. I believe that family and other personal responsibilities are equally, if not more so, as important as work responsibilities. I’m not saying that having one’s smart phone on all the time makes him or her a bad parent or spouse; but I do know that, as several contributors to the article have found for themselves, balance is imperative.

  8. Tanner Speager

    The concept of organizations doing a “Blackberry blackout” is too broad an idea. It would vary greatly from organization to organization. Companies like Weyerhaeuser Canada need employees working in a plant to have some type of on call personnel; whether it is for emergency purposes, or to ask a simple question. Other companies, especially in labor industries, such as rigging or road construction, need to keep in contact with their employees due to constantly changing conditions. Organizations should also permit their managers and decision makers to have their smartphone on at all time. Managers and decision makers sometimes need to be working even when they are not on the clock. This allows the organization to continue to expand and develop, not to mention share any potentially crucial information for either the immediate hour or the next day. Productivity is another issue that needs to be linked to this policy. During on-shift hours, a smartphone *could* be detrimental to productivity, but in other instances, it may be a powerful tool and asset. I believe that this kind of technology is not to blame in itself, but rather the person using it. If you are not having a restful sleep because of a “phantom ring”, is it the phone’s fault, or would it be considered a mental situation? Perhaps you need to cash in a few vacation days to relax and not stress so much. Smartphones are a powerful tool. Why would any corporation not utilize an amazing technology to the best of its abilities?

  9. yuxuan.hou

    After read this article, I think it is very interesting because it relatives with our life. In the modern society, smart phone occupied a large percent of the mobile phone market. For me, I am a smart phone user since 4 years ago. It is very important for me with a smart phone in my daily life. Smart phone has an epochal significant meaning in the mobile phone area. I like smart phone very much, but I am not I not addicted to the smartphone. I like to use smart phone to help me solve the issues in my daily life and work. Smart phone has many very strong apps. For a company, I do not think it is a good idea of limit to use smart phone for their employees. Smart phone likes a mini laptop to help employees increase their productivity. Even though in sometimes, some employees may feel very tired for their current work. They can get relatively relax through their smart phone. After all, employees have their freedom to choose their phone. Company limits their employees to use smart phone may create a nervous work environment.
    All in all, it is very important for everybody to manage the relationship between their smartphone and their job.

  10. Ryan Orr

    Smart phones have become such assets of information and connectivity that organizations would be hurt if they tried to take away or limit their use. The only thing a company may want to consider is having a no games policy but that would be almost impossible to enforce. Smart phones aid in productivity as you can quickly sift through emails and stay connected to your colleagues at all times. Being able to multitask with a smartphone helps productivity as long as they are not being used inappropriately.

  11. Kristian Rochon

    With generation Y now joining the workforce, and the baby boomers nearing retirement, I do not believe it would be in the best interest of the company to ‘turn off the Smartphone’. The Smartphone has become a way of life for us generation Y’ers, to simply turn off the Smartphone is a far-fetched theory to me. With the massive amount of connectivity in the world today, turning off the Smartphone may not lead to individuals turning off their work habits. Individuals will fire up their pc’s, tablets, and with wireless in almost every corner you step in, it is impossible to stay disconnected. The temptation of the Smartphone, will always win. I believe, work productivity has been greatly influenced by the Smartphone and will continue to be. Sure there need to be a balance of work and personnel, but that is up to the individual. Some thrive on work, and other thrive on family life, but again it is up to the individual not the company. If a company wide policy were sent out, especially to employee’s of generation Y, that email was prohibited outside of working hours the reaction, no doubt, would be negative. We are a generation that needs our Smartphone’s, how many times have you heard a friend complain or worry when they leave there smart phone at home. Smartphone’s have increased productivity and they will keep on doing that. Don’t silence the Smartphone!

  12. Brogan Mueller

    I think companies could benefit greatly from having employees limit their exposure to mobile devices. When an employee has been up all night, emailing, checking schedules and thinking about work, when they actually get to work the next morning they are going to be tired and worn out. Instead, if an employee had a break from work all evening and night, when they got back to work they would feel refreshed and more productive. If something is a true emergency, a person will not email it, or text it, so those things can wait until the next work day. The article mentioned, just because we can email at 2a.m, does it mean we should? I don’t think so. Just because we have the technology to connect 24/7, there is no reason for it. You go to work, to do work, when you get home or are on vacation, you are not supposed to be working. People need that down time to relax, not worry, and focus on their family/social life. I think organizations could be a lot more productive and have happier employees if they disconnected from their mobile devices when they are not at work.

  13. Yionna Wesley

    Limiting employees’ exposure to mobile devices has its benefits and its downfalls. First off, it would have to depend on the company’s objective or organizational culture. Some organizations will pay an employee to be on-call for emergency reasons, while some employees take it on themselves to make themselves available at any time for the progression of the company or their career. That employment fit, would come from hiring the appropriate person for the position, whether it is intrinsic or extrinsic benefits. If the company chooses to eliminate exposure, I would have to argue against this. Recent statistical information produced by the Statistics Canada shows the majority of families units consist of a single parent unit. That being said, the parent’s has a responsibility be making him or her available in case of emergency by an educational institution, day care, or the child. One place I worked at, the majority of employees vocalized their opinion on cell phone usage. The employees felt they should not be subjected to hearing cell phones consistently going off in the work place. The managers ended up implementing a “turn your ringer off” policy. This did increase employee morale, as people were less likely to be irritated whenever they heard a cell phone while trying to do their jobs.

  14. Crystal Smallface

    Yes, I feel that organizations would benefit by limiting their employees’ from using their mobile devices especially during working hours. I feel that a mobile device is a social medium that was meant only for convenience and emergencies. I understand that with todays technological advancements these devices are now used for a range of things, such as texting, games, email, maps, etc.. The mobile companies have waged a technological war to see who can outperform the other with apps(applications) that include everything imaginable. But, still they are just a social media device which should be kept out of the office. Employees who are addicted to these devices stray from their duties and responsibilities and I feel it also keeps their mind preoccupied and they will not concentrate or work productively or efficiently. This will lead to poor workmanship and will affect the productivity and outcome of the organization. I understand that when an employee leaves the office for work or travel and needs to be contacted this device is important or to receive emails or documents but as for the social apps they should not be used during working hours. Organizations should definitely restrict the use of mobile devices during working hours and also other social media that can be accessed through the internet such as facebook, twitter, and myspace.

  15. Colin

    I believe that companies could benefit greatly from limiting smart phone usage. As technology becomes a more integrated part of our personal lives, there is a part of our personal lives that is sacrificed. People who go on vacation feel they must constantly check in with what is going on back at the office, thus rendering them unable to maximize the relaxation that was intended by taking the vacation in the first place. I know from personal experience that people dread coming back to an email inbox filled with messages, they feel pressured to stay up at night sifting through endless messages so they can still be on top of things when they return. People need to be able to unplug at some point and focus on themselves in order to stay refreshed and vital. Employee burnout can be a major issue. Start up companies with fewer employees may feel they have to be available to answer messages in the middle of the night or on weekends. The article provided the example where a person feels rested and that equates to higher productivity. Sometimes that downtime or time away allows a person to gain a fresh perspective on the challenges of the workplace. This enables them to return more capable of achieving their goals rather than being tied to a phone or laptop at all hours of the day and night. I feel there must be a sensible balance where work takes place during the work day. If work must be conducted off hours it should be at the discretion of the employee, not because of a corporate culture of pressure to be connected and available at all times.

  16. Dallon Martin

    I think that the idea of limiting the mobile phone is awesome. Smart phones are starting to take over our lives. If this policy is implemented it will allow businesses to increase in productivity, as well i am a firm believer in a balanced life style and those that are still plugged in all day, never get that opportunity to relax and balance themselves. Too often people are burning themselves out, to the point where they are not operating correctly.
    As we look at the younger generation now, in university and schools, they are constantly on there phones whether its on the internet or texting friends. This needs to end or it is just going to continue getting worse in the workplace. Having your mind go from the task at hand to what ever it is on your phone you are doing, is lowering productivity because you lose focus and have to re-engage on the task at hand.
    Most of all, smart phones need to be regulated at the work place, productivity will increase. As for using your smart phones at home after work, for work issues, I feel it would be more beneficial to unplug from work and go at it hard again the next day. Having that balance on a day to day bases is essential.

  17. Abraham Sarthak

    According to me the step taken by ATOS is really a good step towards increasing the productivity of a company . Nowdays,most of the employees have become addicted to their smartphones , thinking of a lifestyle without smartphones is really difficult .This step would certainly improve the productivity of the companies as ,more employees would be fresh and certainly in a better position to deliver new ideas about the companies planning .Also it has been proved by scientists that a average person requires about 7 to 8 hours of sleep daily so that his brain functions in a proper manner . But this is just one company who has taken this kind of step ,what about others? Still there are companies that would give preference to employees who can reply to the messages even late at night .That forces the worker to adopt this kind of habit and become addicted to technology . Well in my opinion more and more companies should start adopting this strategies , as the employees are the people who can take a company to higher or lower level , so there fitness should always be kept in mind so that they feel enthusiastic about working in the firm or company .

  18. Mohadese

    I think companies definitely would gain benefits by limiting their employees’ exposure to mobile devices. We are human and have humanity needs that need to be met that we can work and think properly. We need to have private time, working and working is very harmful for people. If organizations encourage employees to be connected to work 24/7 they would have just useless connection. Employees would have connections to work but they have many issues outside of the work that they need to consider. So their connections to work are not accurate and productive. I think balance between work and private life is much more important than a useless and unproductive connection to work.
    I think they can not do their daily activites and rest time when they are connected to work during their private time. As the article explains, one employee can not sleep well because he needs to check his phone at midnight and sleep with his phone. It means that he needs to be alarm and aware about what information would be emailed to him even in his rest time. But after abandance of using phone from 6:00 p.m to 6:00 am, he can sleep better and be more productive in the morning. The company would have more profit from productive employees who have enough time to deal with their personal issues instead of working more hours without paying enough attentions to what they doing.

  19. Navreet

    Limiting the use of smart phones at work can increase the efficiency at a workplace as it limits the amount of distractions. Internet and smart phone applications can be a very strong source of distractions as one webpage links to the next and so on. One loses track of time and what initially starts off as work related usage slowly turns into entertainment. Reading the news online, checking email, reading your horoscope and many more of our daily activities can hamper our concentration and focus. Limiting the use of smart phones at work would definitely increase productivity at workplace. There has to be a clear balance between work and play as that boundary is blurred with use of smart phones. They combine everything on one device so it’s difficult to distinguish. At home, employees need to turn off work related information and relax to prepare for the next day. Getting addicted to smart phones and hearing “phantom rings” just indicates over involvement which can be controlling by limiting the use of smart phones. A healthy workplace is where the scope for distractions is limited, whether it’s in the form of internet surfing or using smart phones to do non- work related activities.

  20. Ollie Sherwood

    After reading this article and looking at all the information given, I think that organizations and the employees would benefit from a policy similar to the one in the article. By limiting the employees exposure to cell phone use you are helping not only the organization but the employees too. The organization would have an improved work force while increasing its productivity at the same but i think that it does more benefit to the employees. As mentioned in the article, people who turned off the cell phone after work, slept better and were then more ready to work and be effective. It enables them to balance their work and personal life which is important for the overall health of the employee. I think that the best piece of information that this article states is how effective turning cell phones off is for improved sleeping. A well-rested and energetic employee is the best type of person an organization can have, they become a vital asset. At the end of the day, people are using their smartphone way too much and this should be controlled in a working environment. Would i recommend employees turning them off at home? Yes, but you can’t enforce that upon them because its after hours but in-terms of the working environment, there should be policies in place that enforce the correct use of smartphones i.e only for business related matters.

  21. Katie Guccione

    I think that organizations would gain dramatically from having their employees time on their smartphones and electronics limited. When people are constantly connected to their smartphones it is like never taking a break from working out, you get worn out and sick of it. If people never turn their phones off they never leave work, they forget to enjoy the little things in life like having a conversation with someone where they direct their entire attention to their company, not an incoming email. People need to be able to disconnect from their work lives if they wish to enjoy their careers, they need a break from work. Today people tend to think that work is the most important and they rarely disconnect from their phones, this is started at a young age as children are rarely seen without a cellphone now. By giving an employee the chance to completely shut out work for 12 hours they are able to recharge their phones and brains and they come to work the next day refreshed and ready to work. I think that making it mandatory to turn off an employee’s ‘blackberry’ it will make for a better atmosphere at work and it will make the organizations employees more productive overall.

  22. ibrahim.akinola

    This is an interesting article that some of us can relate to. I also own a smartphone which i use everyday, I feel the smartphone is a way of keeping us up to date on what is going on around us and making us more productive, but at thesame time it can be said to bring about specific issues. I personally am not addicted to the cellphone, it is mostly used to keep me up to date on my appointments, emails, events and news because it is small,easy to access and carry around than a laptop. I feel there are some organizations in which mobile device exposure have to be limited so as to enable the employees to balance their work and private life and also give them a break and rest from work even though they are not at the workplace. Most worker tend to reply emails or sometimes answer customer calls when they are not working, this to me as to be eradicated.
    The mobile device as brought about a whole new way in which people work which can be for the best or worst relating to the person. I feel that if the mobile device policy is implemented very well in the firm, it will bring about a big satisfaction among employees and also lead to better productivity.


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