Some evidence suggests the encroachment of work on home life is creating more exhausted, cynical and burned out workers –
‘It seems difficult, if not impossible, for mobile users to maintain a satisfactory balance between their work and personal life,’ one researcher wrote.
Are smartphones really so bad for us? Hard science on the matter is hard to come by. In the absence of solid evidence, debates on their effects are driven more by conjecture, anecdotes and surveys. Some studies, however, are starting to provide a few answers.
When companies hand out smartphones to their employees there is an implicit agreement that those staff are on call any time, any place. Once the workers are used to being connected to the office at all hours, it can be hard for them to detach and relax, says Arnold Bakker, a professor of work and organisational psychology at Erasmus University in Rotterdam.
Christine Grant at Coventry University surveyed remote e-workers at 11 major UK companies. She found that the impact of mobile technology was very much down to the individual. Many found the technology helpful and that it allowed them to work more flexibly. Others suffered from the “always-on” culture, particularly frequent fliers who were contacted at all hours by colleagues in different time zones.
A Gallup poll in May found that stress levels in US workers were higher the more often they checked work emails on their smartphones out of normal hours. Nearly half who checked their emails frequently reported high stress levels, compared with around a third who never bothered.
There was more to the data than that. Workers who emailed most outside work hours rated their lives better than those who did not. Though more stressed out, the emailers saw their behaviour as proof of professional success and accomplishment, Gallup speculated. In other words, emailing outside work hours gave people a sense of importance and status.
Read the full article by Ian Sample on The Guardian website