Do smartphone breaks boost productivity?

Catching an employee spending time on their smartphone could incur a heavy approach from management, but could they benefit in the long term?

According to Kansas State University research, allowing employees to take smartphone microbreaks could lift productivity for businesses. 

Researcher Sooyeol Kim describes a microbreak as nonworking-related behaviour for one to two minutes during work hours . Many employers frown upon smartphone use, but technically it can be as good as chatting with coworkers or getting a coffee.

Mr Kim studied 72 workers across a number of sectors and found employees were only spending 22 minutes out of a normal working day on their smartphones. To test if employees were happier if they used them more, researchers created an app with tracked usage over a day and measured their perceived well-being at the end of working day.

The app separated usage into two categories – entertainment that included games such as "Candy Crush" and social media such as  included Facebook and Twitter.

Mr Kim explained that the more microbreaks employees took, the higher their productivity and wellbeing was towards the end of the day.

"By interacting with friends or family members through a smartphone or by playing a short game, we found that employees can recover from some of their stress to refresh their minds and take a break," he said.

"Taking a break throughout the workday is important because it is difficult – and nearly impossible – for an employee to concentrate for eight straight hours a day without a break."

People deal with work stress in different ways so it is important to understand how people tune out and refocus. Smartphones can do this for an individual as well as helping the organisation in the long term.

To assist productivity in your business, one solution is to invest in workflow automation that streamlines basic HR processes creating an easy-to-use system for employees.

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