Smart Phones – or Are They?
In 1987 when a business and a customer interacted it was either face to face, via a land line telephone, via the postal system or occasionally via fax. When a letter was sent, it generally spent about three days in transit and if a reply was received within a week that was considered quite efficient.
Jump forward 25 years and the range of communication options has vastly expanded, with email, cell phones (voice and text) and the internet leading the charge. Responses are often expected instantly and there is mounting pressure to be available at all times.
Smart Phones have enabled people to receive business emails and phone calls 24/7, supposedly enhancing productivity in the process. However, many business owners are now questioning if they have simply been caught up in the rush to get new technology without fully considering all the consequences.
There are numerous studies regarding the effect that pressure has on efficiency and there is no doubt that a level of pressure is beneficial to all business activities. However, at a certain point, when pressure levels exceed an individual’s personal tolerance levels, efficiency and productivity decline alarmingly quickly. Studies also show that when individuals have regular down time, their ‘up time’ becomes significantly more productive.
Business owners are now questioning if the pressure and lack of down time created by being continually available is indirectly having a detrimental impact on their businesses. There are reports of people now ‘going through the motions’ 7 days a week, when they used to operate at their peak for 5 days a week. Business owners are being haunted after hours by their smart phones signaling that a new message has arrived and feel powerless not to investigate and respond. This in turn is affecting both their personal relationships and job satisfaction.
There is no doubt that smart phones have a massive role to play in modern business, with significant productivity gains being possible if they are used well. However, the ability to be in touch with customers and potential customers 24/7 needs to be balanced against the number one priority of making sure that the personal activity of business owners and employees is sustainable. Smart business owners are now looking at a range of simple options to make sure that they dedicate time specifically to themselves and their families.
Common approaches discussed recently have been:
Running two phones, one personal and one business, and turning the business phone off at certain times
Turning off the email function on a smart phone over weekends and at family activities
Taking turns with other owners or employees at answering after hours enquiries
Using automated responses and voice messages outside of hours to direct incoming enquires without personal involvement
Used wisely, smart phone technology can drive our businesses forward and buy us time but equally that same technology has the ability to create significant problems. Ultimately it is about creating a balance between meeting the modern expectations of your customers while leaving enough personal time available to ensure that you don’t burn out, become disillusioned or have to hire a divorce lawyer.