There’s no escaping technology – even if you want to. Sometimes it seems as if we’re constantly attached to our smart phones, we’re religiously updating social media accounts and using electronics to geotag our whereabouts at all times, day or night.
But what sort of impact does that have on our working lives? There’s no denying that tech has greatly improved not only our workplaces, but how we think of work in general – however, are we paying the price for our digital evolution?
A recent report from OfficeTeam found that the average employee spends 56 minutes every day slacking off on their phones – a statistic that Jack Skeen, Fortune 500 leadership coach, finds deeply troubling.
“I’d characterize it as bad manners,” he told us. “The technology has introduced some seriously bad management manners. Researchers Meredith David and James Roberts coined the expressions ‘boss phubbing’ – phone snubbing.
“They define it as an employee’s perception that his or her supervisor is distracted by their smart phone, when they are talking or in close proximity to each other. It really does create problems for workers. The research found that employees trust their bosses less when they phub them, and they become less engaged from the off.”
A recent study from Baylor University's Hankamer School of Business found that bosses who frequently look at their phones could be harming their bottom line, as employees feel ignored or shunned by leaders who are always on their phones, Skeen told us.
“It’s a new realization, in tech companies in particular, the technology creating some problems that were unintended and not expected.”
So, what does Skeen prescribe as a remedy to this tech-imposed miasma? He recommends a tech-light workplace structure.
“You can be in a meeting and people are on their laptops, or taking phone calls, and its just bad manners. It’s distracting, it stops people from being engaged,” continued Skeen.
“I would recommend employees being banned from bringing that kind of technology into meetings unless it’s required. So, no cell phones, no laptops, no tablets – so that people can really talk to each other. Secondly, employers should try having times of the day when employees get away from their tech and communicate openly with their colleagues. They need to build relationships away from the tech.
“A third notion we’ve been using is to create a technology code of conduct which could include things like ‘no multi-tasking on conference calls’ or ‘no checking emails while conversing with someone’ or ‘no social media during work hours’. Even though people might object at first, as they get used to them I think they’ll come to appreciate that there are some limitations impose on the use of technology.”