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Smartphones kill productivity in the workplace

There is no doubt that smartphones have played a huge and positive part in revolutionising the way in which employees work

Routine tasks and email administration can now be dealt with during that dead-time on the daily commute, clearing the way for a more productive day in the workplace; however, research suggests that once employees have arrived at their desks, those same smartphones can have quite the opposite effect.

Research commissioned by Kaspersky Lab and carried out by the Universities of Würzburg and Nottingham Trent has uncovered a direct link between productivity levels of employees and the physical distance between themselves and their phones.

The research required 95 participants between the ages of 19 and 56 to perform tasks in four different situations: with their phone on their desk, in their pocket, locked away in a drawer or removed from the environment in which they were working. Productivity was at its lowest when participants’ smartphones were in sight on their desks; conversely, productivity increased by 26% when the phones were taken out of the room completely.

These results seem to ring true with the results of a survey conducted on behalf of CareerBuilder earlier this year, in which HR representatives and workers from a cross-section of industries were quizzed on aspects of time-wasting and low productivity. Over 80% of smartphone users had their phones in sight on their desks at work, with employers citing phoning and texting and surfing the internet as the top activities that lower productivity.

Smartphones in the workplace can also create a major headache for employers in that they can potentially create security issues, from employees storing sensitive information outside the company firewall to becoming victims of cybercriminals sending spoof internal emails attempting to extract confidential data.

Kaspersky Lab has also commissioned research into the impact smartphones can have on employee security, which may be helpful to employers looking for a best work practice and adequate training solution.

For HR leaders and employers, the challenge is to strike a balance between security, productivity and practicality in an age in which smartphones and other digital devices have become an integral part of our lives inside and outside work. Practices such as banning digital devices in meetings or during certain work periods are examples of how the problem could be tackled, enabling the best levels of productivity and security to be attained from employees – and their smartphones.

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