Do we remember a time before the smartphone, when work and play existed in separate realms of space and time? The problem of the smartphone’s ubiquity is not a principled objection but a practical one. People are addicted to their phones to the detriment of their family and friends. “When Martin Lindstrom, a branding guru, tried to identify the ten sounds that affect people most powerfully, he found that a vibrating phone came third.” Hyperconnectivity actually destabilizes the modern workplace by distracting workers and allowing managers to act more capriciously.
What’s the Big Idea?
Trying a digital diet, such as refusing to do business on your phone before you’ve eaten breakfast, sounds fine in principle but is likely to prove impractical given the speed of today’s communication. Instead, businesses must lead the way in setting limits on smartphone use because (1) they are among the biggest abusers (again, the capricious boss) and because (2) they stand to gain from having more focused employees. The Boston Consulting Group, for example, has introduced rules about when employees are supposed to be offline and asked them to work together to make this possible.