Put your phone down.
You can do it.
Yes, slowly put it down...ignore the gentle chimes of incoming texts and emails.
Try to ignore your cutie's latest "update" or if some has "liked" what you had for breakfast.
Focus for a moment on the idea that our "always on" culture is actually making our business lives less productive and contributing to an out-of-wack work/life balance that leads to burn out and unhappiness. Who are we kidding? Our bosses don't care about a balanced work-life, but they do care about productivity levels.
Recently the smartphone has come under fire for the promotion of our vacation-less lives. In a recent Harvard Business Review post entitled, "Is Your Smartphone Making You Less Productive?" Ndubuisi Ekekwe suggests the smartphone has helped our culture institutionalize an always-connected work force that works longer and harder but not better. Ekekwe suggests companies should insist employees "un-plug" and have their time off respected.
What about the loss prevention professional? Can you realistically turn your phones OFF? How do you manage your regional loss prevention managers two time-zones away? What if there is a robbery or burglary? Is it really realistic to say every other profession can unplug but ours?
Unplug and Thrive
What would happen if we "turned off" for a period of time each evening or here's crazy thought: a weekend! Ekekwe suggests we'd actually give ourselves the opportunity to think about our email responses, instead of "acquiescing to the knee-jerk reflex of responding to every incoming message." We should put our "smart" devices in their place—that is to serve us, not the other way around according to Ekekwe.
Ekekwe and me are not alone in our desire to unplug without consequence. In a forthcoming book, "Sleeping with Your Smartphone: How to Break the 24-7 Habit and Change the Way You Work," Harvard Business School professor Leslie Perlow conducts a study illustrating this point citing 78% of people feeling "satisfied" with their jobs compared to the group that didn't disconnect for at least one night a week.
There's an App for That
Some of us would rather have our old dumb phones back. How productive would we be if we weren't playing Angry Birds or checking if our "friends" really "like" us? Darrell Etherington of Businessweek raises these questions in, "Is Smartphone Productivity a Myth?" He cites a recent Nielsen Survey that found 60% of apps downloaded are games compared to 26% that are productivity apps. Does making a "Better Christmas List" actually count as productivity? The same article suggests most people are taking pictures more than anything else, citing a Pew poll statistic of only 29% who had ever used an app at all – much less one that is productive.
There are valid questions concerning these "smart" devices and how much real value they offer to our jobs, productivity and overall lives. I would submit, in agreement with Ekekwe, what if we all committed to not "blindly working faster" but work smarter by unplugging, if just for tonight. I bet we'll all be in a lot better moods tomorrow.
What do you think? Is it unrealistic for loss prevention professionals to carve out a little "me" time? Did you put down your phone to read this?