Smartphones at workplace – Do they really help?

Smartphones at workplace – Do they really help?

It sounds very productive to talk on the phone, send an instant message and read your emails all at the same time. Beware - according to a research published by the Stanford University even trying to do so may impair your cognitive control. So if you have been a media multitasker lately, you are actually paying a mental price and your brain may be in trouble.

Dr, Clifford Nass, professor of Communication at Stanford University, said during a discussion that smartphones encourages to do multiple things simultaneously, which is physiologically not healthy for you since we are not designed by nature to do multitude of tasks at one time. Research has proved that multitasking reduces your ability to focus on what is relevant. For example your smart phone may make you feel like you have to respond and thereby increases your stress and harm your cognitive thinking.

Smartphone enables you to perform multiple tasks and so it is easy to assume that it makes us more productive. However giving half attention at two places makes you less effective in accomplishing your goals. The great Peter Druker, AKA “Father of Modern Management” once said that he doesn’t know a single chief executive who could handle more than one priority at a time. Several years have passed since then, but what he said then is so relevant even today.

Our smartphones have become like a Swiss army knife which includes dictionary, calculator, email, web browser, appointment calendar, voice recorder, GPS, weather forecast, tweeter, facebook and flashlight. With an appliance like this we may think we are doing several things at once, but instead we are actually just switching from one tasks to another very rapidly, says Earl Miller, a neuroscientist at MIT. According to him we are not wired to multitask and so every time we do so, we do it at our cognitive costs.

Multitasking increases production of stress hormone cortisol which can over-stimulate your brain and lead to mental fog or scrambled thinking. According to a survey by CBS MoneyWatch, almost half of the employers said cell phone was the main drag on productivity in the workplace. It’s not really surprising that many employers simply ban smartphone usage in the workplace. However on the flipside there are also employers who use their smartphone for productive and timely pursuits, directly related to the job. For example to access a digital file from the cloud, quickly reference contacts, track time, monitor tasks list, set an alarm or run a quick search on the topic of discussion. The key is to remember that smartphones are tools and just like any tool, they will never be any better or worse than the way they are used.

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