20 July 2007

Research on smartphones and the work-life balance

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Blackberry on the train
According to research conducted by Research In Motion, BlackBerry devices and other smart phones may have had a huge impact on executive and employee productivity, but they also have a negative impact on work-life balance by making it more difficult to switch off from the office, according to a recent survey.

The USA Today article reporting the research highlights how these devices increase efficiency, reduce stress, and “swing the work-life balance to the company side of the scales”.

These results stand in contrast with Swisscom research recently reported by Bruno Giussani in The Economist, which makes one wonder to what extent the validity of the Research in Motion study is limited to senior managers only.

“Stefana Broadbent, an anthropologist who leads the User Adoption Lab at Swisscom, Switzerland’s largest telecoms operator, has been looking at usage patterns associated with different communications technologies. […] Although the rise of the BlackBerry has prompted concern about work invading private life, the opposite actually seems to be true: private communications are invading the workplace. Workers expect to be plugged into their social networks while at work, whether by e-mail, IM or mobile phone. Last year at a food-processing factory near Geneva, the workers revolted when the director tried to ban mobile phones from the factory floor, and he was forced to relent. Their argument was that they wanted to be reachable during the day, just as people who sit at desks are.”

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