In recent years, many companies have loosened their rules on in-office personal phone use. For most employers, it’s not as big of a deal now if an employee occasionally scrolls through social media on their phone or texts a friend. This is because research has shown that nonwork phone usage during working hours can boost productivity. So, how should this factor into your business’s mobile device usage policies in the workplace? Here’s what you should know.
Mobile devices at work can potentially make employees more productive. In fact, a September 2022 study published in an open-access journal reaffirmed the notion that bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies can improve productivity. The study’s authors also noted that reluctance to implement BYOD policies often leads to lower productivity.
Most studies correlating BYOD policies with improved productivity, though, are not recent. In 2013, Dell surveyed 1,500 IT decision-makers and found that two-thirds of respondents saw increased productivity after implementing BYOD policies. This aligns with Kansas State University research from 2014.
Two members of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology found that workplace personal device usage improved employee well-being and, by extension, productivity.
“Having workers take small breaks on their phones throughout the day may positively influence their perceived well-being at the end of the workday,” said Sooyeol Kim, one of the study’s authors and a doctoral student at Kansas State University.
The study uncovered a positive relationship between using smartphones to take short breaks for things like texting friends and how employees felt at the end of the workday. The results also revealed that on days when employees used their smartphones more for social media use, they reported feeling better than when using their phones for entertainment or personal reasons.
Short employee smartphone breaks can potentially increase your team’s productivity.
Mobile devices can become a distraction in any workplace, and there are numbers to back this notion. Employees waste 2.5 hours per day on their phones, according to a 2020 Screen Education survey. Among the survey’s 1,019 respondents, 14% said that smartphone distractions had resulted in at least one accident in their workplace. Among these accidents, 59% led to property damage, and 50% led to injury or death.
At the same time, the productivity benefits that come with BYOD devices are well-researched and proven. It’s all about striking the right balance. To that end, below are some tips on how to allow workplace mobile device usage without introducing excessive distractions.
A 2022 Pew Research Center survey found that a lack of career growth opportunities was the second-most common reason employees left jobs in 2021. Professional development pathways can be as good for your long-term retention as for your short-term productivity.
Your team should be unafraid to check their phones every now and again for a quick break from work. You should also implement approaches that naturally limit your employees’ time on their phones. Just a little phone time – but no more – can go a long way in boosting productivity and employee morale.