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Mobile working shouldn’t mean compulsively checking emails

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Advancements in modern technology make mobile working possible, but it should not lead to employees checking their phones compulsively.

This is the opinion of Ian Price, the author of a book on the subject entitled The Activity Illusion, who believes that such behaviour is not good for productivity.

Just because staff can check their phones and emails everywhere does not mean that they should, as being over connected with work can lead to stress.

Mr Price said: “I think [with] the latest increase in use of smartphones, some people have developed the habit of compulsive email-checking outside of working hours – at the beginning of the day, late at night, on holiday, at weekends – and it becomes quite habit-forming.”

He also pointed towards the benefits of smartphones as a great way of undertaking flexible working and having a greater amount of independence, but warned people to exercise restraint.

Allowing the world of work to think that because there is the technology to get in touch with people wherever whenever it is acceptable to do so will only lead to bigger problems in the future.

People need down time when they are relieved of the pressures of work and are not at the other end of their BlackBerry to answer a query or a question whatever else they may be doing.

Mr Price said: “There is evidence that [this] makes people less effective – with poorer mental concentration and focus, so that is something to worry about. There is research [by psychologist Richard Balding], who revealed that stress was likely to increase, the more someone checked phones.”

One of the key principles associated with flexible working is that it is not just about the hours put in, but the productivity achieved.

This can be good for staff as they are able to fit work around their lives, but in some cases it can be that they fit their lives around their work and are never afforded a break away from their phones.