Managers Can Help With BlackBerry Addiction

By Kevin Hill on 21 Mar 2007 11:44 am EDT
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Blackberry airportWe at CrackBerry.com have a BlackBerry addiction problem and we are OK with that. It’s kind of our job. But what if you are an employer and your entire staff is addicted? What if your team’s productivity is being negatively impacted by overuse of personal devices, excessive e-mail checking and time wasting messaging? Then you have a problem.

It is not just a time management issue either. Workers are now reporting increased stress levels linked to being available 24/7 on their BlackBerries.

A recent study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management examined BlackBerry use and corporate behavior associated with the devices.

According to the study, BlackBerry addiction is a tangible thing, 90 percent of respondents at one company studied said they felt “some degree of compulsion” in their BlackBerry use. They admitted they checked their messages often at work. However, even though these employees were not required to be on call, those people in the study also said they felt the need to often check their messages on evenings and weekends, at church, at the gym, while travelling, at the airport prior to and after flying, and at social gatherings.

The MIT study concluded that this problem often begins at the top. Senior employees often establish a pattern of use that their subordinates adopt. If a manager sets the tone by always being available in their BlackBerry, junior employees will follow their lead and conclude that continual connection is expected even though it may be expressed explicitly otherwise..

It is up to companies to help their employees control their BlackBerry use, concludes the study. Those explicit instructions about not being on call must be made clear and senior management must set the example. Training should be instituted that that enables people to learn how to batch and queue their messages so they can view and reply to e-mails when it is more convenient. One tip is to use header codes when sending e-mails – “urgent” or “no response needed.”

Some companies are now prohibiting BlackBerry use during meetings and have even gone so far as to ask their employees to leave their BlackBerrys in a box outside the meeting room. Some companies have found that cold turkey is hard on employees and have had to schedule breaks to allow people to check e-mails.

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Managers Can Help With BlackBerry Addiction

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