Is Your Smartphone Affecting Your Work?
By Sandy Schroeder
We all rely on our phones to do all sorts of tasks every day, but we might be surprised if we were shown how our phones were impacting our work focus.
Harvard Health recently published research for the April,2017 Association for Consumer Research that showed how a smartphone might impact normal work performance.
Researchers studied a group of 520 college students who were asked to do some problem-solving. While they were working, some were asked to put their phones in another room. Others were allowed to keep their phone with them In pockets or purses, and some had the phone on the desk.
Overall results showed the position of the smartphone made a difference in the performance of the students.
- When the smartphone was in another room, the performance scores were the highest
- When the phone was next to the student on the desk, the scores were the lowest
Even when a phone is not in use it may be a distraction, according to the researchers. This is labeled as a “cognitive cost” that can affect performance.
All of us might test this theory by placing our phone in different spots while we work. If you keep it close at hand or station it out of work range, does it make a difference in your concentration level?
In a way, this might be similar to a busy young mom listening for the sounds of an infant. They may be busy doing other things, but they are always on the alert to listen for their child.
Use and Misuse of Smartphones
Further tests of the effects of electronics on our work and home life might lead us to take electronic breaks for an hour or an afternoon. We might also take weekends away from email, and shut down phones at dinner and bedtime.
As you look around to see how attached people are to their smartphones, the major questions remains open. How can you get the most support from your phone without letting it impinge on your performance?
If we look around, we'll see people using and misusing smartphones every day. In conferences or conversations, too often the smartphone becomes the third participant in the interaction. This sends a strong message to the other person, signaling just how important they may or may not be.
You have probably also seen the look of panic when someone misplaces their phone, or cannot make a connection.
Obviously we are all going to continue to rely on our smartphones, but maybe we just need to make more effort to figure out the best ways to make them work for us.
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