Smartphones: Work-Life Balancer, or Ruiner?


Mobile-optimized workplaces lead to higher employee engagement, according to a new study by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) sponsored by Aruba.

Roughly 60 percent of the survey’s 1,865 respondents said that the use of mobile technology made them more productive; another 40 percent believed in a link between increased mobile-tech usage and creativity.

Anyone who’s ever fired off several rounds of emails while stuck in traffic can attest to the smartphone’s ability to increase productivity, although some employees complain that use of mobile devices can lead to poor work-life balance.

Despite those concerns, smartphones and tablets allow thousands of tech pros to maintain flexible schedules. Freed from the need to work inside a physical office, these workers can set their own hours and work patterns, boosting (at least in theory) their productivity and creativity. In a recent Stack Overflow study, 37.1 percent of surveyed developers said that a flexible work schedule was a top priority when searching for a new job; some 13 percent of tech pros told Dice that flexible work location was a primary motivation.

That being said, there are significant challenges involved in remote work. Whereas in-office colleagues can simply walk over to one another’s desks to collect information about a project, remote employees sometimes end up playing phone-tag for hours or days in order to find something out. Many businesses also have secure systems or databases that can prove challenging to access for employees working from home or the road. And then there’s building a rapport with colleagues—something difficult to accomplish when you’ve never actually met them.

The good news is, many employers are open to negotiating a flexible work schedule, provided workers craft a detailed proposal. If you plan on bringing up the topic with your boss, be sure to emphasize how mobile devices can help you do your job from anywhere.

One Response to “Smartphones: Work-Life Balancer, or Ruiner?”

  1. Howard Forman

    Sure, you can be more productive when you can work after normal hours. When in IT, sometimes you can’t work on IT systems while users are busy going about their normal day-to-day work so you wind up at 3:00 AM staring at a screen that seems all blurry. But being stuck in traffic and working quickly shifts to driving at 65 MPH and working or walking across a street against a light and “working”. And then what happens when your mobile device has no encryption and is lost with the entire company HR database on it? Everything has a price.