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The Connectivity Conundrum

SmartphoneThe following guest post was written by John Hollon, a member of The Workforce Institute Advisory Board and Vice President for Content at Checkster. Thanks, John!

I don't have a lot of pet peeves, but there is one that really pushes my buttons.

It's people who think they can do something else while they're texting or talking on their smartphone.

Believe me when I tell you, they can't.

We know people can't properly drive (or text) while on a smartphone, but in my experience, they can't walk and work on a phone either. I know this because several times a week I nearly run over someone at the gym or the supermarket who is so distracted by their phone that they blindly walk into the path of a moving vehicle.

So, I wasn't surprised by this recent CareerBuilder survey that detailed just how much smartphones are sapping employee productivity on the job.

It found that that 83 percent of employees have smartphones, and 82 percent of those with smartphones keep them within eye contact at work. And while only 10 percent of those with smartphones say it's decreasing their productivity at work, 2 in 3 (66 percent) say they use it (at least) several times a day while working.

Well, there seems to be a slight difference of opinion about how much those smartphones are distracting employees from their work. Yes, only 10 percent of workers think they are distracting, but a whopping 55 percent of managers listed cell phones and texting as the No. 1 productivity killer for employees.

Clearly, workers and managers have a different take on how smartphones impact the amount of work getting done.

“While we need to be connected to devices for work, we're also a click away from alluring distractions from our personal lives, like social media and various other apps,” said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder. “The connectivity conundrum isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it needs to be managed.”

Workplaces are continually evolving, and as this survey makes clear, what constitutes distracting smartphone behavior is up for debate. Employees see this as a minor issue, while managers are a lot more troubled by it.

But, it's sort of like the people on their smartphones who don't see me backing up or driving by in the parking lot - they'll probably be arguing that their phones aren't a distraction as they're rolling under the wheels of my car.

Yes, one person's distraction is another person's problem. That's why it's probably time we get a better handle on how smartphones should be handled in our workplaces.

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