For many of us out there it’s hard to know when ‘knocking off’ time is these days with the concept of a simple 9-5 existence seemingly well in the past, and if one thing is to blame above all else it’s the BlackBerry or products of its ilk. However, British occupational psychologist Amir Khaki has warned that persistent monitoring of your BlackBerry will increase stress levels and, more interestingly for employers, most likely decrease productivity too.
Khaki, owner of AK Consulting studied the BlackBerry habits of a group of executives in middle to senior management who were either high or low frequency users. For the purposes of the study Khaki termed ‘high’ users to be those who would typically switch on their BlackBerry during the commute to work, keeping them on when they go home during the evenings and even during the weekend. Meanwhile, ‘low’ users would generally allocate specific times to check their BlackBerry and respond to emails.
“People who fell into the high user category tend to have a distorted perception of their own usage and they equate their BlackBerry use with being dedicated to the job,” Khaki told CNN.
The CNN report notes that these displays of enthusiasm didn’t translate into efficiency. “In one example Khaki observed a high frequency user trying to complete a simple spreadsheet. The task, Khaki estimates, should have taken about 20 minutes but ended up taking three times as long because of BlackBerry monitoring,” with the knock-on effect of this disruption creating anxiety.
“You’re not finishing what you are supposed to be doing. The dependency it creates when you can’t find it, or it buzzes when you can’t do anything about it because you are in a meeting causes stress,” he said.
Khaki advises companies whose employees have been issued with a smartphone to at least provide a basic level of training, and he also suggests companies try to encourage their employees to set a limit on usage.