Last September I asked on my other blog: Have we finally realised we need to unplug ourselves from endless apps and social media connections?
I described the Light Phone and the fact that the old Nokia 3310 from 2000 was selling well on the internet. Now it’s been announced that the Nokia will be sold again with a larger colour screen but with only basic call and text facilities for around £49 in the UK.
It seems that the smartphone idea was being dumbed-down. Is that a bad idea?
Well in the Times Body & Soulsection last weekend they asked “is your smartphone making you stupid?.”
Arianna Huffington‘s book “Thrive: The third metric to redefining success and creating a happier life”
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It’s the size of a credit card and can make calls and store 10 numbers and that’s it. Retro or what?
It will be launched in the US by two friends, Joe Hollier and Kaiwei Tang, who used to design Motorola phones (I loved my flip-top Motorola) but grew jaded with the constant pressure to come up with increasingly addictive and life-consuming apps.
If you believe the statistics – and I find these figures unbelievable and not sure of their source – we tap our phones on average 2,617 times a day…
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In a speech at the British Psychology Conference in Liverpool he said UK productivity was the second lowest in the G7 group of nations (20% below the average and 40% below the USA) which he believed was due to our embracing technology “too enthusiastically“.
He thinks companies should shut down their servers to discourage employees from checking e-mails in the evening and at weekends and especially when on holiday – which he described as sick. (Some companies are already doing this in Germany).
He would like to ban in-house e-mails between members of staff in favour of face-2-face communication and thought c.c. e-mails a waste of time.
He thinks too may people are just showing up for work (“Presenteeism”) but not doing anything productive.
Research at the University of Sussex confirms that when when staff are given company smartphones they put in an extra day a week checking and responding to e-mails.
Experts say that there may be help round the corner from even newer technology such as Slack and Yammer which provide an open stream of communications not requiring you to open e-mails. (Is that really an improvement?)
However UK employees don’t have to wait long to be criticised in his view but they can wait a long time to get any praise for good work.
And that could be a problem with younger workers who expect praise and good treatment at work.
Having portable data can be useful when you are working off-site but these devices also blur the boundaries between home and work.
No wonder companies are happy to give staff the latest smartphone or tablet that they can take home with them. There is an expectation that they will use them “after hours” for work.
Researchers at the University of Surrey examined 65 large studies involving around 50,000 employees.
Few companies actually spell out what is expected of staff, Is there a cut-off time after which it’s not OK to ring someone on a work-related matter? What about during holiday?
“In the absence of a policy written down … employees tend to take guidance from their managers or colleagues. If managers send e-mails late at night, staff feel they are required to answer them” according to one of the researchers at Surrey.
Employees might be happy at first to receive a new piece of technology but they soon realise there is an expectation that they will always be available and it then becomes a burden. They lose a sense of self-control which can lead to being less able to cope with stress.
The researchers believe that having technology such as smartphones has led to white-collar workers working the equivalent of an extra day a week and two day for managers. In other words 24/7.
Family life suffered the most from these distractions as you might expect with not even weekends and holidays protected from digital intrusions.
So technology is contributing to longer working hours, worse work-life balance, and more stress.
We have to look to Germany, the powerhouse of Europe with a strong union involvement in companies, for examples of good practice. Volkswagen, BMW and Puma stop their servers sending out e-mails 30 minutes after the end of the working day and make it clear that employees are not expected to answer e-mails at weekends or when on holiday.
Daimler actually gives its employees the option of automatically deleting any e-mails sent to them when they are on holiday so they don;t come back to a bulging in-box.
And last year France banned interruptions after 1800 and before 0900.
Sadly in the UK we don’t seem so concerned about employees’ well-being,