How Smartphones Affect Employee Productivity and Collaboration


We learn from a Research and Markets’ Mobile Solutions Study that around 91% of small businesses find mobile technologies pivotal for their business operation. Then it shouldn’t surprise that the use of business mobile apps has increased by 20% since 2012. But what about the side effects of this accelerating trend?

Current situation

The increase in mobile productivity can be directly related to the rising popularity of smartphones and tablets. Mobile-friendly websites and customer-tailored mobile apps made customers an active part of the process, enabling them to schedule appointments, access customer services and make payments. If we consider a Pew Internet Project’s report from January 2014 that says that 55% of adults own a smartphone and 42% own a tablet, it is clear that your employees are already mobile in a smart way. Many businesses already began exploiting this potential.

Benefits of Smartphones

One of the first and most obvious benefits of mobile devices is the worker’s ability to access company data from any location. This is especially applicable to employees who travel to business meetings, work from a customer’s office, and industry-specific events like fairs, conventions and exhibitions. In the same way, employees who work from home often find it easier to access company resources over Managed Google Apps than through a third person.

Making transitions easier

When a company moves into a new office space or splits into two divisions, both the employees and the management face many challenges in keeping the ship together. Until everybody adapts to the new environment and start exploiting the benefits that motivated the move in the first place, smartphones van be a valuable constant, facilitating seamless connectivity between the workforce, vendors and customers. Unlike landlines, mobile technology guarantees real-time connectivity regardless of the location. It all boils down to more efficient employee time management, improved customer service and overall increased productivity.

Distraction or pressure valve

On the other hand, their excellent networking and entertainment capabilities make smartphones the cheapest and fastest source of fun. Originally it was believed that giving employees a device that allows them to make calls, surf the internet and play games virtually everywhere is not such a good idea. However, a number of scientific studies have shown that these distractions and the company’s profits are not related. What is more, several case studies show that giving employees time to blow off some steam on their smartphones can actually benefit businesses.

Scientific study

A study by two members of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology found that encouraging workers to take micro-breaks on their phones during their time at work may positively influence their mood and well-being at the end of the workday. The study included a survey of 72 workers from different industries in South Korea. A crucial part of the study was a specially designed app that measured time spent on the phone during the workday, and more importantly could divide the phone usage into:

  • Social media
  • Entertainment and leisure
  • Personal and informative

The employees were asked to do a poll at the end of the day. Eventually, it was discovered that those who took time off to text friends or follow social media feeds were happier at the end of the workday. Even more precisely, employees who used their smartphones more for social media reported feeling better than those who used them for entertainment and personal needs.

The key is interaction

Sooyeol Kim, one of the study’s authors and a doctoral student at Kansas State University, says that “We buy smartphones so we can interact with people. We use them for social interaction, so I think that’s why social media was shown to make employees the most happy.” The research has shown that employees spend around 20 minutes during a workday having fun on their smartphones.

Previous to that, employees would work from 9 to 5, leaving their office and becoming free from work. Now, they are more engaged in their work everywhere they go. The ties to the job are hard to break even at home or on a vacation. As a way of dealing this pressure, employees started using their personal or company smartphones for short, micro-breaks, to chat, text or play games. The studies have shown that this habit can improve employee’s productivity, while keeping them happier throughout the work day.