Are Our Smart Phones Making Us Dumber?

November 7, 2013 at 8:38 am Leave a comment

As an unabashed Luddite who is nonetheless more dependent on technology than anyone I know, I am more than a little envious of the employee who can be on the phone responding to a text message, keep up with the latest news and eat lunch all at the same time.  Increasingly, the multi-task ideal is becoming a critical skill to master for career advancement.

But what if the myth of the archetypal multi-tasker is just a bunch of bunk and all those hours spent tethered to our smartphones are actually keeping us from getting enough sleep to be truly productive employees?  In 2009, Clifford Nass, who passed away yesterday, set out to research what makes multi-taskers so good at juggling many tasks at once and absorbing so much information.  What he found instead was that people aren’t particularly good at multi-tasking, they just think they are.  If you really want to do something right, do it one task at a time.

And all this glorification of multitasking, replete with bring your devices to work policies has created a culture glorifying the never ending work day.  For instance, a recent report on NPR profiled a credit union CEO who was sending and receiving emails at all hours of the day and night, having convinced herself that she just needed about five hours of sleep.  She eventually came to her senses.  She stopped checking her email before she went to bed and limited smart phone use to her top executives.  The results were that she was healthier and her employees were coming to work having gotten a better night sleep themselves.  The allegedly lost hours of productivity were more than made up by being fully prepared to face the day.

It seems to me that we are letting our machines run us, rather than the other way around.  Without spending a cent, or even having a staff meeting, you can make your credit union more productive within months by showing your employees that it’s okay to put down the cell phone and get a good night’s sleep.

Entry filed under: General, HR.

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Authored By:

Henry Meier, Esq., General Counsel, New York Credit Union Association.

The views Henry expresses are Henry’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Association.

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