jump to navigation

the folly of allowing employees to use smartphones December 30, 2008

Posted by That Guy in Conference Call, Meeting Minutes, Observations, Technology Trouble.

I can’t find the article right now, but a few weeks ago I read something about how people’s socializing behaviors are changing the more they use their smartphones. That is, the time they used to spend talking to people (even their own families) is now being spent doing more work — and play — on their smartphones, including but not limited to answering work e-mail, browsing the web, and staying updated on their social networks. And playing games. (I have to be honest; this game is pretty addictive, as simple as it is.)

I was in the same meeting I referenced in yesterday’s post. Very little useful information came out of it — it was mostly stuff we’d all covered before. My boss, myself, and my co-worker were all in the same room.

CC-licensed photo by Gail Jade Hamilton.

CC-licensed photo by Gail Jade Hamilton.

We were all on our phones — updating our social networks, complaining about how boring and useless the meeting was, checking and responding to e-mail, updating applications and software, talking to others via IM, and generally trying not to die from boredom. (There was one more person in the room; he was using the second computer in the room to finish a project.)

What’s the lesson here?

None of us were paying more than token attention to the conference call and accompanying shared-desktop PowerPoint presentation. In fact, I can’t remember more than three of the speakers’ names, and one was a VP at my office (she wasn’t in the room with the rest of us, because if she was she wouldn’t be able to accomplish anything else at the time).

Here’s the problem: with the sheer amount of work everyone has to do, and the sheer amount of time that’s spent in meetings, people need to steal back as much time as possible. Fortunately, companies want us to be as in-touch as we can be, so they get us smartphones… or pay for our smartphone plans… or just make it impossible for us to not buy smartphones ourselves and pay for them ourselves.

If you’re going to make it possible for us to do work on our phones, we’re going to do work on our phones. If it’s at a time that’s inconvenient to you because you’ve invited us to meetings that we don’t really need to be at*, then you’ll just have to deal with us checking and answering e-mail, updating our social networks (by complaining about the time wasted and boring nature of the meetings), and playing a game or two.

It’s the folly of allowing us to use smartphones. Every sword has two edges**.

* The VP of ours who was at this meeting walked by while I was writing this and said it was very boring and a waste of time, so that was nice.

** Not really. But I was too lazy to think of a better metaphor.



1. let me stop this meeting to deal with YOUR problem « corporatespeak - January 2, 2009

[…] some make snide remarks about how the meeting started and Fred is wasting time, some check their smartphones, some chat amongst themselves, and some just sit quietly until Tracy finally slips back […]

2. when the internet goes down, the world ends « corporatespeak - January 23, 2009

[…] by That Guy in Technology Trouble. trackback We live in an increasingly-connected world. Our smartphones hit the internet so we can check our e-mail. The first thing we do in the morning is flip on the TV […]

3. your extended absence greeting is on « corporatespeak - February 10, 2009

[…] I may be out of the office, but it’s not like I’ll be far away from my computer or my smartphone. If the e-mail is important enough, I’ll reply, but otherwise, I’m letting Jeff and […]

4. “meeting vortex” « corporatespeak - April 17, 2009

[…] I’m pretty sure my idea will actually see the light of day, but that was 45 minutes I spent checking e-mail on my phone and three minutes actually being a productive member of the […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: