More and more people are adopting smartphones in order to become fully connected to the world through their mobile device. Companies are also making moves to connect with employees by giving them smartphones and developing mobile applications as a way to increase employee engagement. At first glance, it is great to be able to access your work email 24/7, but this continuous feeling of being plugged in can also be draining. In fact, a new study from the University of Worcester has found that the feeling of being constantly connected without the ability to freely disconnect induces stress.
Companies, like Volkswagen, are now starting to react. The German automaker’s employees all use blackberries, and the company has decided to limit the email server to only be activated during business hours. This means that employees are free from constant communication with work once they leave the office. Roger Cohen, a reporter for The New York Times is one of the many who think that this is a smart move. Cohen says people often fall subject to a, “contemporary state of anxiety in which focus on any activity is interrupted by the irresistible urge to check email or texts.”
Remaining plugged in arguably increases employee productivity, but it is important to also address its potential downfalls. In the future, more and more companies will surely address this issue. As an intern, I have yet to feel the 24/7 pressure of having your phone connected to work. However, I have witnessed the poor effects this connection can have. For example, I have experienced many vacations when a family member gets their relaxation time derailed by incoming messages that blow up their smart phone. It is important that employees can be reached in the case of a work emergency while away from the office. On the other hand, I also think that employees deserve to have a feeling disconnect when they leave the office, if they so chose, especially during vacations. I would guess that Volkswagen employees appreciate this move and that the company is well on its way to having great employee satisfaction.