Smart devices are a great part of modern technology, but they are also a constant source of distraction. Increasing numbers of employees admit to using their smartphones to play games and idly chat with friends while working. If this is causing problems at your business, here are some steps you can take to stop the problem.
Provide Enough Work
If your employees are using their phones to waste time at work a lot, it might be time for some self-examination. It’s not always easy to look at yourself as the potential cause of these problems, but if even your high-achieving employees seem to be looking down at their Candy Crush games when you walk through your office, you may not be giving people enough to do. Bored employees will seek to entertain themselves; if you have given them a good volume of tasks, they will be too busy for diversions.
Have a Meeting
If the phone use problem seems to be low key at your business, consider just having a meeting and talking through issues. This works best at a small workplace where the whole team can talk, but larger firms can have conferences followed by breakout groups. Explain to your employees that you are concerned about the possible productivity issues caused by smart devices, and then give them a chance to discuss what constitutes appropriate and inappropriate uses of company internet resources and time. If nothing else, a good meeting will let you identify potential problem employees.
Issue Business Phones
Some businesses rely more on smart devices than others. If these gadgets play a significant role in your business, actually banning or restricting phone use may be impractical for day-to-day operations. Instead, you should consider issuing business phones to employees. You can pick up a set of the same phone type, like the excellent LG G6 smartphone from a reliable provider, so that it is easy to tell on first view if an employee is working on a personal phone or a business model. The law also allows you far greater reach into the contents of a phone you provide.
Block Sites Through the Wi-Fi
Since a lot of modern smartphone plans set caps on wireless data usage, consumers have gotten in the habit of using Wi-Fi networks for internet usage. This is good for you, since there are several options that your IT department can exploit to keep your employees honest. Your computer people should be able to block off common productivity killers like Facebook and Twitter, and they may even be able to stop your employees from accessing popular games through your network. And they should also be able to track the things your people do look at on the network as well.
Train Managers to Watch for Slackers
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Your management team is your first line of defense against workplace productivity killers like overuse of smart devices on shift. You need to make sure that your front line soldiers are well-trained and equipped to enforce policy. Teach them both how to watch out for employees using smartphones to goof off, and also how to use the tech tools your IT department can provide to block and track use of your company internet. Though your managers don’t need to be computer experts, knowing a few things about security helps.
Banning Cell Use
Of course, there is always the nuclear option — banning all cell phone usage at work. This needs to be handled carefully, or else your employees are going to be upset enough that some may reconsider their employment situation. Moreover, it is important that you allow people to contact your workers in the case of a real emergency, so this works best with employer-issued phones, where you can make sure that calls are not frivolous. Actually collecting phones from employees coming on shift is overkill and probably of dubious legality; instead, ask them to leave devices at home or in lockers, and penalize anyone you see using one.
Smartphones are not the enemy of the modern workplace, but rather just another tool. Used well, they can make your business more profitable than ever before; used poorly, they will harm you. Make sure you have a good smart device strategy in place.