Miss Manners Says, ‘Put Your Device Away at Work!’

Emily Post, the famed 20th Century etiquette guru once said, “Good manners reflect something from inside – an innate sense of consideration for others and respect for self.”

While Post might not have seen cellphones, tablets or laptops coming, these handy-dandy technologies can pose etiquette problems in the workplace (and at lunch with friends and at home with your families – but we’re just going to focus on the workplace for now).

A survey from Robert Half Technology of over 2,300 chief information officers (CIOs) around the country found that 64% of CIOs said the increased use of mobile devices has led to more workplace rudeness over the last three years. That percentage has grown from 51% in 2010.

These technologies can help with productivity, but also serve as major distractions in meetings and face-to-face conversations.

Robert Half Technology offers four suggestions to avoid breaching etiquette at work:

  • Don’t surf while talking. It’s just rude to check your email or be on the Internet while in the midst of a conversation with someone.
  • Keep voicemails concise. Get to the point, already.
  • Make smart communication choices. Use the available technology to your advantage: Need a quick answer on something? Try an email, text or instant message. Just make sure to pick up the phone or walk down the hallway if you’ve got a long request or need to have a difficult conversation.
  • Avoid intense multitasking. Be present wherever you are. Tablets and laptops can make meetings more effective and efficient, but surfing the web or Tweeting during meetings is just a distraction for you and everyone else involved.

One more thing: the Emily Post Institute has a whole section on business etiquette, as well as a guide, “Manners in a Digital World, Living Well Online.” Check them out when you’ve got some free time at www.emilypost.com.

Mobile Madness!

Digiday explains why smartphones and mobile devices are no longer wants, but necessities, in today's world. Here are 15 stats that all brands should know about mobile:

  • The U.S. is at 101% penetration. (CTIA)
  • 1 billion smartphones will be shipped globally this year. (Gartner)
  • Apple beats all other phone manufacturers in customer satisfaction for smartphones. (J.D. Power and Associates)
  • 59% of mobile users are as comfortable with mobile advertising as they are with TV and online ads. (InMobi)
  • 85%  of mobile users prefer mobile apps over the mobile Web. (Compuware)
  • 75% of Americans bring their phones to the bathroom. (11 Mark)
  • 15% have answered their mobile phone while having sex. (Wilson Electronics)
  • Mobile advertising revenue is expected to reach over $11 billion worldwide this year, up from over $9 billion last year. (Gartner)
  • Mobile drives 23%  of paid-search clicks. (The Search Agency)
  • Americans spend an average of 158 minutes every day on their smartphones and tablets. (Flurry)
  • 15% of mobile users prefer to check financial accounts on smartphones and tablets. (Quicken)
  • 42% of consumers using a mobile device while in-store spend more than $1,000. (Interactive Advertising Bureau)
  • Mobile now accounts for 12% of Americans’ media consumption time, triple its share in 2009. (eMarketer)
  • 39% of mobile users access social networks from their phones. (Business Insider)
  • Mobile commerce will account for 15% of total e-commerce sales this year. (eMarketer)

Hat tip to Chamber staffer Glenn Harkness for the story.

Want to be ‘Smart?’ Ditch Your Smartphone for a While

Every so often, you observe an encounter so poignant that it must be shared.

Here is the scene I observed this morning on a crowded elevator: A young man enters, absorbed with his smartphone. In steps an older man, who pushes the button to another floor. Looking around, he spots the first gentleman staring at the phone.

“You know there’s life happening all around you, right?” the older man says with a smile.

The first man takes a beat and chuckles awkwardly, not sure how to respond and not sure if he should take it as a slight or just a social commentary. I’m sure I spotted a red blush creeping up around his neck and face. I should have gone up a few extra floors to see how it played out.

I told a co-worker about the encounter and she added how she’d seen a news story about a woman that had walked into an open manhole because she was distracted on her phone. A little Google search confirms her story. It also turns up a 2012 study by BMJ (British Medical Journal), in which pedestrians were observed at 20 high-risk intersections and their behaviors recorded. Those who were texting took an extra 1.87 seconds to cross and were almost four times as likely to display at least one unsafe crossing behavior (not looking both ways, ignoring traffic lights, etc.).

Not only are we missing out on life, but technology addiction can lead to accident and injury!

I’m just as guilty as the next person; I play on my phone and listen to music on the way to the parking garage after work. Also, one of my New Year’s resolutions was to stop taking my phone into the bathroom with me. The bathroom! (Don’t even pretend I’m the only one.)

Another danger: This is breeding a new generation of workaholics. While technology allows convenience by being able to work wherever and whenever, employees who are constantly “on” aren’t getting time to relax and recover for the next work day.

Some companies have caught on to how this negatively impacts their workers. In 2011, Volkswagen created a new policy that its servers would stop routing company emails 30 minutes after the workday ended and would not resume until 30 minutes before the workday began (the rule doesn’t apply to senior management). Other companies are tackling the issue as well, realizing that blurring the line of work and personal life is bad for employee well-being and business.

What’s that famous proverb? Oh yes, “All work and no play make Jack a dull boy,” seems appropriate at this moment.

Do yourself a favor: Put your smartphone away today. Encourage your employees to rest and relax on their off hours. Remember the wise words spoken in my elevator and stop missing the “life happening all around you.”

Want Efficiency? Don’t Multitask

We used to put “ability to multitask” as a positive on our resumes, but maybe it’s best to start leaving that one off next time you are hunting for a job.

Here’s why: Only 2% of people are able to multitask effectively, according to Ragan Communications. The rest of us – yes, going ahead and counting myself in the other 98% (but not to be confused with Occupy Wall Street, or whatever they are calling themselves these days) – need to focus on one project, one memo, one e-mail at a time.

We burn 10 IQ points for each distraction. That’s the same as missing a full night’s sleep (and as a new parent, I value sleep and I’m already apparently losing IQ points for having an infant – so you can bet I’m putting my focus on one thing at a time today).

Here are some startling facts that an OnlineCollege.org infographic offers about multitasking at work and at home:

  • 89% of people with smartphones use them at work, even though 45% of U.S. workers already believe they have to work on too many things at once.
  • On average, employees who use a computer for work are distracted once every 10.5 minutes.
  • It’s not just adults – students multitask while they learn, but 62% of the web pages students open during class are unrelated to the subject (don’t think I’ve ever heard of a class in Facebook).
  • And we are not truly relaxing, either: 67% of people use smartphones on dates; 45% do it at movie theatres; and 33% check phones in church.
  • Trying to focus on more than one thing causes a 40% drop in productivity – which is twice the effect of smoking marijuana. The average desk job employee loses 2.1 hours a day to interruptions, equaling 546 hours total for the year.
  • Using a cell phone (hands-free or handheld) while driving is distracting – it slows a drivers’ reaction as much as having a blood alcohol content of .08%.

Try to remember these statistics at work and at home and leave the little glowing technology box in your purse or pocket to reach your full productivity.

U.S. Not Tops in Global Technology Use

This info is a bit surprising, but according to a recent study, the U.S. trails countries like Sweden, Singapore and Switzerland in technology use. In order to make up the difference, I plan to spend the next two weekends watching hours upon hours of YouTube videos of house pets whose owners insist they are talking (they think they’re people). USA! USA! PR Daily offers:

You wouldn’t know it judging by the sea of smartphones and mobile tablets on public transportation every morning, but the United States is lagging (relatively speaking) in its use of computing and communications technology.

According to an annual study by the World Economic Forum, the U.S. finished fifth among 138 counties in technology use.

Sweden, Singapore, Finland, and Switzerland topped the U.S. in tech use. Canada ranked No. 8, and Great Britain was No. 15.

The rankings are based on 71 economic and social indicators.

A surprise: China and India each fell five places from 2009, ranking 36th and 48th, respectively.

In the Cards: Ball State Thrives with Smartphone Technology

Indiana is truly blessed to have the many esteemed public institutions of higher learning that it does. Thanks to efforts from Indiana schools, men have walked on the moon, more people now survive cancer (ask Lance Armstrong) and our food is grown incredibly efficiently. But lest we not forget, the fine folks in Muncie are considered a national leader in the world of technology. Here is just one example:

Under the direction of computer science professor Paul Gestwicki students spent an entire semester developing several dozens applications for Google Android. The new smart phone operating system was launched in 2009 and quickly is proving popular with consumers as potential rival to the BlackBerry and the iPhone.

When they were done in fall 2009, 18 students with no computer programming experience had created a bird-watching program, several games, an English-to-Spanish tutoring system, math flashcards, and a Dungeons and Dragons character generator with Web-based database storage capability.

"This was an incredible experience because it opened new doors and new ways of thinking for all of us," says Travis Cawthorn, ’12, of Frankton, Indiana, majoring in accounting. "I created a game that should be fun to play with for hours. Let’s be honest, many students my age use smart phones for entertainment."

The class was part of an experimental partnership between Google and several technology-centered universities including Ball State, Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), University of Colorado, and University of Michigan.

Google provided the class with 20 G1 developer phones loaded with Google’s Android operating system and gave them access to the new App Inventor for Android, which makes it possible for users with no programming experience to create mobile applications.

And stay tuned for our September/October edition of BizVoice for my article on Ball State’s WiMAX test bed. The school’s work is helping America’s top companies perfect their wireless broadband technologies and rendering Ball State an archetype in the field.