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Switch off smartphones at least once a week, workers urged

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Banning office workers from using their smartphones one night a week can lead to a happier and more contented workforce, it has been claimed.

Researchers at Harvard Business School found that workers who stopped checking their mobile working devices after 6pm once a week were more satisfied with their jobs.

The study suggested that those who took ‘predictable time off’ came into work the next day revitalised and ready for action – boosting their performance in the workplace.

On the other hand, those who kept checking their phones were generally more fatigued and less motivated in the course of their jobs.

Almost two-thirds of those surveyed said they had been glad to spend more time with their families and enjoy their social life for an evening, with the smartphone switched off and tucked away.

Professor Leslie Perlow, the study leader, noted that more than a quarter of professionals sleep with their phones by their bedsides.

And while this may support mobile working practices, it means there is less chance of professionals ever really ‘switching off’.

“We defined as ‘on’ the time people spent working plus all the additional time they were available, monitoring their work in case something came up,” he stated.

“What caught our attention was that the more people were ‘on’, the more unpredictable their work seemed to become.”

Professor Perlow added that by being constantly connected to work, professionals seemed to be reinforcing – and worse, amplifying – the very pressures that caused them to need to be available in the first place.

He claimed that all workers should ensure they have a definite break from office-based activities at some point during the week, in order to refresh their minds.

By breaking the vicious circle, both individuals and the organisations they work for can potentially benefit from improved performance and higher productivity.