HRD finds out that neither employees nor employers are spared from the unintended productivity problems created by tech
A recent report from OfficeTeam found that the average employee spends about 56 minutes every day slacking off on their phones – a statistic that Jack Skeen, Fortune 500 leadership coach, finds deeply troubling.
“I’d characterise it as bad manners,” Sheen told HRD. “Technology has introduced some seriously bad management manners. Researchers Meredith David and James Roberts coined the expression ‘boss phubbing’ – phone snubbing.
“They define it as an employee’s perception that his or her supervisor is distracted by their smart phone when they are talking or in close proximity to each other. It really does create problems for workers. The research found that employees trust their bosses less when they ‘phub’ them, and they become less engaged.”
A recent study from Baylor University's Hankamer School of Business in the US found that bosses who frequently look at their phones could be harming their bottom line, as employees feel ignored or shunned by leaders who are always on their phones, Skeen said.
“It’s a new realisation, in tech companies in particular, the technology creating some problems that were unintended and not expected.”
What does Skeen prescribe as a remedy to this tech-imposed situation? He recommends a tech-light workplace structure.
“You can be in a meeting and people are on their laptops or taking phone calls, and it’s just bad manners. It’s distracting, it stops people from being engaged,” he said.
“I would recommend employees being banned from bringing that kind of technology into meetings unless it’s required. So, no cell phones, no laptops, no tablets – so that people can really talk to each other.
“Secondly, employers should try having times of the day when employees get away from their tech and communicate openly with their colleagues. They need to build relationships away from the tech.
“A third notion we’ve been using is to create a technology code of conduct which could include things like ‘no multi-tasking on conference calls’ or ‘no checking emails while conversing with someone’ or ‘no social media during work hours’.”
Skeen shared that “people might object at first” but they will come to appreciate the limitations once they’ve gotten used to them.