mobile distraction at work

Today’s workforce prioritizes work-life balance, and employers are taking note. To support healthy digital habits at work, leadership must free employees from mobile device distraction and unleash the power of today’s tech in the right usage context through contextual mobile device management.

In 2007, the iPhone was launched with the slogan, “This Changes Everything.” While smartphones may not have changed everything, it’s safe to say they’ve changed the way we do most things. For instance, what woke you up this morning? How will you primarily communicate with others today? How will you take care of the birthday gift you need to order, make your grocery list, or arrange plans with family and friends for the weekend? It’s likely that your smartphone is the answer. The productivity gains from this device are without parallel, but the ‘always-on’ culture that has surfaced from its usage presents definite challenges. As the primary gateway into the numerous social media channels and apps that monopolize our time, the continuous dings, pings and chirps keep us in a perpetual state of engagement, potentially disengaging us from moments that require our focus.

The Digital Dilemma

In today’s device-driven society, we face a unique duality in our personal and professional lives. The devices that make us more productive also create a significant distraction that hinders productivity and efficient time management. This reality doesn’t exclude the workplace – more than half of U.S. employers agree that mismanaged mobile devices are a primary detriment to productivity on the job. Correspondingly, studies repeatedly confirm that a majority of employees use their devices for an hour a day or more on non-work-related activities – this amounts to five hours per week, per employee of lost production time. This lost time only increases as workforces become younger, growing to 70 minutes a day for employees between the ages of 18 and 34.

A company’s productivity and bottom line aren’t the only pieces here, however; the happiness of its employees carries immense weight too. Simply put, the more time employees spend distracted by their devices at work, the longer it will take them to complete necessary tasks, causing them to work into the night or on weekends, catch up over holidays or develop other unhealthy working habits. The technology shift from fixed to mobile communications has redefined how and where we work, merging off-hours with working hours and creating constant connectedness. As younger generations seek careers with the optimal work-life balance, minimizing interruptions and supporting healthy digital habits in the workplace has become a must. In fact, more than a third of the workforce is now made up of millennials, according to a Pew Research analysis of census data. The top characteristics they look for in a career? Growth opportunities and work-life balance.

The Solution

Managing the usage of mobile devices in the workplace doesn’t have to be an invasive practice or carry a negative connotation, and it certainly doesn’t need to rely on antiquated, unenforceable and often ignored policies. An April 2019 Forrester report, How To Wake Up From The Nightmare Of Workplace Technology Distraction, references a HelloWorld finding that “employees were on average 20% to 50% more productive, worked less overtime, and were generally happier” during a period of time when no meetings or calls were allowed. Contrary to popular belief, though, most employees are actually okay with mobile policies that manage device access at work, as long as they don’t hinder their ability to get their jobs done or infringe on their lives outside of work, according to a July 2019 commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of TRUCE Software, Unleash The Full Potential Of Mobile With Contextual Mobile-Device Management.

These responses simply can’t be ignored, so it’s pertinent that employers implement an effective, impactful MDM platform that flexibly and intelligently manages device access on the job. This doesn’t entail just any management platform, however. Let’s first illustrate that mobile technology is not the enemy. When used in the right context, these devices enable and empower employees to complete important tasks and serve as a powerful enterprise tool for employers. Hint: the key here is context. Employers need a technology that’s just as smart as the smartphone – something that’s customizable, comprehensive and can keep up with a company’s needs as it scales. More than anything, however, the differentiator is to deploy an AI-driven solution that operates based on unique, contextual indicators such as time, place and job type. What exactly does this look like? Here’s how contextual mobile device management can play a vital role in maintaining the healthy work-life balance employees strive for.

What is CMDM Technology?

CMDM technology first provides companies with a way to think about acceptable device usage based on a situation or work environment. Next, it manages the user experience of mobile devices based on contextual “zones.” These zones may include a work vehicle, corporate board room, office space, construction site or industrial facility, for example. The CMDM platform, which includes an easy-to-use app downloaded to an employee’s mobile device, ultimately takes the guesswork out of policy compliance. In simple terms, the CMDM platform can identify when and where a mobile device is being used and if there is a need to enforce the company policy. Once identified, the employee’s phone automatically switches to a “protect” mode, causing selected applications on their devices to be made available while suppressing unnecessary or distracting usage.

CMDM is different from typical mobile device management platforms because it works only when it needs to. Unlike more restrictive MDM policies, once an employee has exited a jobsite zone, they have full access to all applications on their device. This feature is critical in today’s workplace environments, as 59% of organizations report having a BYOD policy in place for their employees. CMDM also alleviates any privacy concerns that employees may have regarding an employer’s access to their personal devices – the technology only manages usage and does not record personal data.

Learn More: Why Upskilling and Reskilling Are the Future of Workplace L&D

The End Result

When we’re buried in our phones, we don’t communicate or operate to our fullest potential. By helping employees focus on the task at hand and on collaborating with their co-workers through intelligent, contextual management, employers can support more efficient, empowered and creative working spaces. Encouraging employees to channel their undivided attention and efforts into their workday is a win-win for all – it empowers their best work and improves turnaround rates, culminating into a world where they can physically and mentally clock out at the end of the day and hit the reset button instead of barreling towards burnout.

In turn, this methodology strengthens job skills. We learn by communication, repetition, and observation, all of which are made easier by reducing and eliminating mobile distractions. It’s no secret that happy, engaged employees help companies grow from the inside out and improve bottom-line success. Increasing opportunities for employees to take on more concerted roles and move up the ranks will boost morale, support retention and attract other top talents.

We all feel the pull from our mobile devices. It’s almost impossible to concentrate on our jobs with the near-constant pings, buzzes, and rings of our smartphones. But with CMDM, employers can free their employees from the anxiety that comes with every notification or the temptation to scroll through social media feeds or sports highlights, and instead unleash the power of mobile devices in the right usage context. This grants employees the ability to do their jobs whole-heartedly and uninterrupted. Let’s face it, digital reliance in the workplace can’t be denied – it’s the way most of us get our jobs done every day.  It’s time to make mobile the best way to get employees out of the office on time and home to properly enjoy their personal lives so they can return focused and refreshed tomorrow.

– See more at: