The Smartphone Effect

I’m trying hard to catch up on my overloaded pile of magazines and books. Most are always business related and usually procured with the intent to help me think of fresh and new ways to keep PQC ahead of the game and provide a unique and encouraging workplace. So today when I was thumbing through the March articles for Harvard Business Review, I thought it was funny that one of the articles was related to our phones. We’ve been griping at employees forever about not using their phones on the job and instead focusing on details. “If you’ve got to have them, put them face down and on silent” we’ve noted for our team members that depend on them for work.

Well, it turns out even that’s not enough. In the article, “Having your Smartphone Nearby Takes a Toll on Your Thinking” (https://hbr.org/2018/03/having-your-smartphone-nearby-takes-a-toll-on-your-thinking), the authors note comparative studies designed to measure cognitive capability by completing memory-based tasks (e.g., complete a math equation, remember letters) when phones were nearby versus in the other room. The group with the phones in the other room performed the best. I’m not sure I can agree with all the results since I believe a little self-control goes a long way, but they do note that sheer availability could be seen as a distraction.

As adult employees and leaders, I challenge each of us (both professionally and personally) to consider this: Does your phone serve as a distraction? I know at night that I sleep better when my phone is out of my room, but I also know that I am equally as worried about missing key calls or interactions when it’s gone. We all know there are more times when we can put the phone aside and focus on the task at hand.

Now to deal with all those other distractions that keep us from focus. I’m sure that’s a whole other study!

-Stacey Smith, PQC President & CEO

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