Working Smartly with Your Smartphone


With the endless access gained through smartphone technology, can it be that we unconsciously compromise our personal and private time?


In the recent Inspired Worklife article, Forget About Work-Life Balance, Serendipity Labs examined a concept called Work-Life Integration in which professionals integrate work into their everyday lives by leveraging technologies like smartphones. But what are the boundaries between work and play? Do we continue checking emails from colleagues while enjoying a well-deserved vacation with friends and family? With the endless access gained through smartphone technology, can it be that we unconsciously compromise our personal and private time?

Smartphones are the new look of the 21st Century. If you look at anyone on any given day, they’re texting or looking at their smartphone. A recent survey revealed that a majority of smartphone users were spending excessive amounts of time checking work emails. Clive Thompson in MotherJones.com also reveals that a big percentage of workers check emails while on vacation. Other research conducted by Professor Gloria Marks at UC Irvine proved that managing the sheer volume of emails could create feelings of overload. So the question now is how do we avoid death by smartphone and instead leverage technology to our advantage?

Harvard Professor Leslie Perlow ran a study on consultants and their email habits. Most were found to be habitual email checkers during vacation, which translated to longer working hours and unhappy family members. Perlow’s recommendation: To create boundaries or “predictable periods of time off” when workers did not check email or could not be accessed. While no productivity was lost, workers experienced a reduction in work hours, improved morale, and lower stress. In the other study conducted at UCLA where excessive emailing was found to trigger higher stress levels, the management team was asked to reduce email interruption on weekends and even during work hours by promoting verbal communication when necessary. This resulted in a happier, calmer work group.

Just because the ingenuity of the smartphone hypnotizes us with its charm and immeasurable accessibility, it does not have to become the vice of our times. The worker is always in control of technology and not vice versa. Referring once again to Serendipity’s Work-Life Integration Blog, it should be reiterated that the idea is to work smarter, not harder. After all, it is called a ‘smart’phone.