Presented by Blackberry
All work and no play makes my smartphone something something...
by Rene Ritchie, Daniel Rubino, Kevin Michaluk, Phil Nickinson
There was a time when the smartphone was a tool of the businessman. The BlackBerrys and Treos and Windows Mobile smartphones were connected corporate networks - and often issued by those corporations. Over the last several years that has changed dramatically, with smartphones becoming the province of the consumer.
So prevalent has smartphone usage become among the general public that corporations are beginning to perform a 180 on smartphone policy. They're increasingly comfortable with you hooking up your personal device to their secured corporate network.
Does that mean we need a new breed of device, something that can balance the needs of the personal user and the business user? Or do we already have the smartphones and tablets that can do that? And how do you manage the distraction of the personal at work and the work at home? Would we be better off just shoving the phone into a drawer throughout the day, or is there benefit to being able to pick it up and get in a quick Facebook check?
Navigating the world of smartphones and business, work and personal, isn't the easiest thing, but there's got to be a solution, right?
Let's get the conversation started!
It became that way for a reason. BlackBerry killed at enterprise but didn't adapt fast enough to ride the mainstream smartphone revolution wave. Neither did Microsoft. Apple and Android, meanwhile, didn't have their enterprise act together as they rose in consumer awareness.
So people were stuck with phones that were great for just half of their lives. Some suffered trying to get work done on an iPhone or Android, or trying to have fun with a BlackBerry or Windows Mobile. Or they tried carrying two phones and dealing with the requisite overhead.
Now it's 2013. Bring-Your-Own-Device has brought iPhone and Android into enterprise, and entirely new platforms have brought Windows Phone and BlackBerry 10 fully into the personal space.
So can one device now do it all?
With BlackBerry 10, the idea of "dual personas" is baked right into the device. With BlackBerry Balance you essentially have two phones in one, a secure enterprise partition for work, and another for personal stuff. You can change between the two elegantly and easily - swipe down on the home screen, tap an icon, and you're either on the job or off.
When in work mode, you get all your work features and the company gets all their security as well. You can access your enterprise services and apps, and the IT guys can enforce security policies to ensure data is kept safe. When you're in personal mode, it's your stuff and IT has no window into it.
It's the best of both worlds, and something all platforms should embrace.
That's the best of both worlds, and it's something I'd like to see all platforms embrace. Right now you can sort of do something similar with third party apps that sit on top of the OS, but that doesn't provide the same level of integration or the seamlessness of a built-in solution.
The ability to securely switch accounts is a basic service of traditional computing. It's time for it to become a basic service of mobile computing as well.
So many of us in so many professions are expected to be more accessible these days. That means that the line between your work life and your home life becomes increasingly blurry — if such a line exists at all anymore. So how do you find that balance?
For some, the answer is to fight to reclaim and define the line. Fight for the ability to leave work at work, and home at home. The ability to not answer e-mail until you're actually in the office. That skirts the object of our little exercise here — and probably puts limits on any number of careers now — but balance can be found through mutually exclusive means.
For others, the best approach is to ignore the line. Obliterate it. There is no line between work and home — there is only the time spent on one or the other. While that sounds more than a little invasive, it can work. Don't worry about the line, and just learn to go with it.
The trick then is that while you can work any time, in fits and starts, you shouldn't necessarily work all the time. You have to know when it's okay to deal with work at home, and when it's not distractive to deal with home business at work.
While you can work any time, you shouldn't necessarily work all the time.
A third option requires more willpower. Embrace the line of demarcation, but respect it as well. Work when you're expected to work, and ignore work when you're expected to be at home. Some of the new workspaces such as Samsung's SAFE and BlackBerry Balance help with that. Treat them like the front door of an actual office and stay the hell away when you're expected to.
We've talked previously about how being online 24-7 doesn't — and more to the point shouldn't — mean that you're available 24-7. Every job is different, of course. But unless you're a doctor or leader of a sovereign nation, chances are you're really not as important as you like to think you are, and life will, in fact, go on for an hour or two while you unplug.
Being given a mobile device by your work is a two-edged sword. By that I don't mean that it has its pros and cons. I mean it draws blood.
There's no such thing as a free phone or tablet. Any technology perk comes with it an expectational debt. The boss didn't give you a shiny new smartphone so you could show off to your racquetball buddies. The boss gave it to you so they could BBM you at 2 in the morning on a Sunday to make sure you're fixing their presentation for Monday, or whatever other thing could just wait for a more reasonable hour.
Forget strings attached. In the modern mobile workplace almost everything comes with industrial strength cables welded to the frame.
Read receipts, pioneered by BlackBerry Messenger but since then widely adapted by many other, similar services, seem like a great idea when you send them and you can safely know your messages have been read. When your boss rages that it took you 20 minutes post-read receipt to respond, suddenly you wish they'd never been invented.
Powerful mobile computers that fit in our pockets seem like miracles when we can watch a funny video or talk with our family from across the country. Not so much when we're woken up in the middle of the night to fix the thing and talk to the person.
First world problems, I can hear you thinking already. (Why do you think so loudly?) Thanks to mobile devices we can still be "working" while we sneak out to the game after lunch, or get in overtime from the backyard deck, or file that report just before Disneyland opens for the day.
Like any tool, it is what we make of it.
Like any tool, at the end of the workday it is what we make of it. If we set firm boundaries, if we employ bedside mode and do not disturb, if we keep our devices in our pockets when out with our families, and if we otherwise tell people, including our bosses, what is and is not acceptable in actions and not just words, then work phones and tablets and even laptops can be great.
Because, bottom line, just because technology enables us do something, doesn't mean we have to let it.
There is little doubt that modern technology, especially the internet and mobile devices, have had a positive impact on productivity. The flip side is that those same devices now act as distraction to many employees, leading many IT departments block certain "time waster" websites like Reddit and Facebook. With those sites blocked on the corporate network, employees often just resort to their personal mobile devices with outside connectivity to get their fix.
Granted, these are sweeping generalizations, but you don't need to look far to see the impact of such "second screening" (using another display from a computer, tablet, or phone while simultaneously using another device). Hitting the bathroom now serves two purposes: to let nature have her way, and for you to catch up on Twitter, Facebook, and play Angry Birds until you've lost feeling in your feet.
Personal discipline and age are two factors that will probably determine to what extent your phone is a distraction at work. For some, simply putting the phone away is key to managing the distraction, while others either by age or choice aren't as ensconced in modern technological frippery and don't have to deal with it to begin with.
But what about the adolescent generation that is being raised with multiple screens? Will employers need to have "no smartphone policies" where employees have to keep their devices stowed away, or will the employers implement cellular blockers to enforce it? Or is smartphone self-control simply a function of age, maturity, and dedication?
While blocking sites or signals may seem draconian, employers ultimately care about one thing: productivity. If there was ever a threat to that metric, it would be the proliferation of powerful constantly-connected big-screened smartphones.
Is smartphone self-control simply a function of age, maturity, and dedication?
One could argue that back in the day, the choice of your device could determine the outcome in the constant back and forth between work and play. For instance, BlackBerry still has a reputation of being "more serious" when it comes to labor than when compared to an iPhone or Android. That is all changing now, thanks in part to the Bring-Your-Own-Device policies that are slowly becoming the norm, and BlackBerry today has had to shore up its devices to be more "fun".
In reality though, these issues aren't going away and as mobile broadband becomes more ordinary along with the propagation of affordable smart-devices, employers and employees will have to reach a common ground to maintain the work-play dynamic.
There is no good answer that covers all of the bases. If you have two smartphones, one for work and one for personal, that's two devices you have to manage. And that pretty much defeats the purpose of the smartphone in the first place. Or you could use your personal smartphone for work stuff, but then you have to deal with your personal smartphone being your work smartphone.
When does work stop and personal begin? When it's all on the same device and always with you, that line becomes hazy, ever-moving, and sometimes just plain evaporates. It's up to us, every day, to draw that line.
It's up to our employers too. They shouldn't have tell us when we can and can't use our personal devices at work. We should be able to handle that distraction ourselves. After all, we're at work for a reason. That reason being to work.
There are technical balances between work and personal with systems like BlackBerry Balance and Samsung SAFE, but the majority of the balance is up to us. We have to set lines and standards, we have to self-enforce and self-police. Where do we draw that line and how do we decide when to step over it?