Workforce Smartphone Abuse: It’s Real – But Can You Stop It?

You’ll hardly be surprised to know that smartphones are everywhere these days—and that includes in your employees’ hands. According to enterprise mobility services vendor iPass a company providing enterprise mobility services, recently surveyed over 2,300 mobile employees,95% of them report they have a smartphone. And of these, nearly 6 in 10 use smartphones issued by their employer.

But here’s the bad news: while 91% of these mobile workers say they use smartphones to help them get work done, only a fraction—33 %—use smartphones entirely or mostly for work. So what are the other two-thirds doing with their smartphones during office hours?

Calling All Facebook, Angry Birds, and IM Fans

If my office is any indication, they’re:

  • Keeping up with friends and family on Facebook
  • Instant messaging with same using WhatsApp, iMessage, BlackBerry Messenger, and other IM tools
  • Playing Angry Birds, Fruit Ninjas, and plenty of other gaming apps downloaded from the Apple iTunes store or from Google’s Android store, Google Play

company's smartphone abuseIn fact, smartphone abuse has become so widespread that psychological conditions like nomophobia (“fear of being out of mobile phone contact”, according to Wikipedia) and phantom vibration syndrome (“the sensation and false belief that one can feel one’s mobile phone vibrating or hear it ringing”, according, again, to Wikipedia) are becoming perilously common.

You Have a Reason to Be Worried

So as smartphones become the ultimate communications and entertainment tool—a Swiss army knife of phone, web browser, video game player, digital camera, email client, instant messenger, and social media hub—your company has every reason to fear your phone-toting workforce is just as likely to be distracted by this amazing pocket PC as it is to be empowered by it.

Alas, Self-Discipline Only Goes So Far

As a smartphone user myself, I’ve self-trained to limit my phone consultations to just three time sa business day—when I arrive at the office, when I break for lunch, and when I’m ready to go home. Yet while self-discipline boosts my productivity enormously, interruptions by co-workers intent on sharing the latest adorable cat video or hilarious Instagram snapshot from last night’s bar-hopping rager still manage to distract me during even important business meetings. And it’s easy to imagine what these social media happy colleagues are doing when they return to their desks … and I suspect it isn’t a hard day’s work unless you are using something like Snapchat tracking app.