Are Smartphones Limiting Business Productivity?

In past years, many business have pointed to smartphones – and related ‘bring your own device’ policies – as innovative productivity solutions. However, recent reports suggest that these mobile devices may be damaging productivity levels as much or more than they improve them.

A recent study, conducted in collaboration by representatives from Northwestern University, IBM Research, UC Santa Cruz and Google Research, found that employees who aren’t traveling throughout the day achieve higher levels of efficiency working solely via desktop computer than they do when splitting time between multiple devices including a smartphone. Many cited difficulty typing via smartphone when compared to desktops, and noted that clumsy input mechanisms could breed unwanted mistakes.

This may come as a wake-up call for offices that have relied on smartphone-aided multitasking as a way of increasing productivity. Other strategies to improve employee productivity, such as passing off some of these tasks to offshore providers, may lead to greater success than accentuating the use of mobile devices within the office.

Smartphone use at home may be further damaging productivity

While smartphone use at the office may not be adding the efficiency that managers expect, smartphone use at home may also have a detrimental effect on productivity. Citing information reported in a recent Michigan State University study, NBC affiliate WILX reported that using smartphones at night damages energy, limits workplace productivity and harms sleep schedules.

Russell Johnson, assistant professor of management at the school, told the news outlet that using smartphones after 9 p.m. – even for work-related purposes – can have a detrimental effect on productivity the next day.

“The amount of time people spent using their smart phone after 9 p.m. had a detrimental effect on sleep that night, as well as it carried over and impacted how fatigued they were the following morning,” Johnson told WILX. “You just can’t detach, when it’s sitting beside you on the bed stand, and you’re continually getting messages and texts, that really does make it difficult to disengage from work.”

The news outlet went on to report the study’s findings that the blue-light display on smartphones decreased melatonin production among those who used them, reducing the likelihood of falling asleep at a reasonable hour, further damaging productivity.